Kim says he wouldn't be at summit with Trump if he were not ready to denuclearize

Kim says he wouldn't be at summit with Trump if he were not ready to denuclearize
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North Korean leader Kim Jong Un said he would not be at a summit with President TrumpDonald John TrumpAmash responds to 'Send her back' chants at Trump rally: 'This is how history's worst episodes begin' McConnell: Trump 'on to something' with attacks on Dem congresswomen Trump blasts 'corrupt' Puerto Rico's leaders amid political crisis MORE if he were not willing to denuclearize the Korean peninsula.

Asked by a reporter if he was ready to denuclearize, Kim, speaking through an interpreter, said, “If I'm not willing to do that, I won't be here right now.”

Trump responded, “good answer. That might be the best answer you've ever heard.”

Pressed on whether he was ready to take concrete steps to denuclearization, Kim said, “that is what we are discussing right now.”

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Kim's comments came during an expanded bilateral meeting with Trump on the second day of their summit in Hanoi, Vietnam.

Trump and Kim started the day with a one-on-one meeting, which began with Trump stating that he is in no rush to reach a denuclearization deal with Kim.

Kim accepting questions from U.S. reporters marks a historic moment, as it is believed to be the first time he has done so with Western reporters.

At one point, Trump replied to a question directed at Kim about whether the summit's discussion includes human rights. Trump said, “we’re discussing everything.”

Asked about whether he is ready to have a U.S. office in Pyongyang, one of Kim’s aides responded by asking whether it was time for reporters to leave.

After Trump said he wanted to hear the answer because “it’s actually not a bad idea,” Kim said the idea of a U.S. office in Pyongyang is “something which is welcomable.”

An agreement to exchange liaison offices, or quasi-embassies, is expected to be part of the deal reached at the summit's conclusion. 

Kim asked reporters to “kindly give us more time between us,” when pressed by reporters on whether he was ready to agree to the exchange on Thursday. 

Kim’s willingness to relinquish North Korea's nuclear weapons has been called into question by regional experts, U.S. lawmakers and the U.S. intelligence community.

Last month, Director of National Intelligence Dan CoatsDaniel (Dan) Ray CoatsThe Hill's Morning Report - Presented by JUUL Labs - Trump attack on progressive Dems draws sharp rebuke A brief timeline of Trump's clashes with intelligence director Dan Coats Chuck Todd on administration vacancies: 'Is this any way to run a government?' MORE testified before the Senate that North Korea is “unlikely to completely give up its nuclear weapons.”

Last week, a senior administration official previewing the summit to reporters acknowledged that he didn’t “know if North Korea has made the choice yet to denuclearize.”

“But the reason why we’re engaged in this is because we believe there’s a possibility that North Korea could make the choice to fully denuclearize,” the official added.

At Thursday’s expanded meeting, Trump said the discussions have been “productive,” adding, “we’ll see how it all goes.” 

“I think no matter what happens, we’re going to ultimately have deal that’s really good for Chairman Kim and his country and for us,” Trump said. “That’s where it’s all leading. It doesn’t mean we’re doing it in one day or two days, but it’s all leading toward a very big success.”

Updated 12:18 a.m.