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Kim Would Not Be Having Summit With Trump, He Says, if Not Open to Denuclearization 


North Korea's leader Kim Jong Un and U.S. President Donald Trump talk in the garden of the Metropole hotel during the second North Korea-U.S. summit in Hanoi, Vietnam, Feb. 28, 2019.

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un left open the possibility of denuclearization during his meeting Thursday with U.S. President Donald Trump.

“If I’m not willing to do that, I wouldn’t be here right now,” Kim said in response to a question from reporters in Hanoi, Vietnam.

When asked if he is willing to take concrete steps toward denuclearization, Kim said that is what is under discussion.

Trump said the two leaders are having “very productive discussions” and that he thinks the relationship between the two sides is better than it has ever been.

“I think no matter what happens we’re going to ultimately have a deal that’s really good for Chairman Kim and his country and for us. I think ultimately that’s what’s going to happen,” Trump said.

North Korea's leader Kim Jong Un and U.S. President Donald Trump attend the extended bilateral meeting in the Metropole hotel with U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, White House National Security Adviser John Bolton, acting White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney, North Korean Foreign Minister Ri Yong Ho and Kim Yong Chol, Vice Chairman of the North Korean Workers' Party Committee, during the second North Korea-U.S. summit in Hanoi, Vietnam, Feb. 28, 2019.
North Korea's leader Kim Jong Un and U.S. President Donald Trump attend the extended bilateral meeting in the Metropole hotel with U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, White House National Security Adviser John Bolton, acting White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney, North Korean Foreign Minister Ri Yong Ho and Kim Yong Chol, Vice Chairman of the North Korean Workers' Party Committee, during the second North Korea-U.S. summit in Hanoi, Vietnam, Feb. 28, 2019.

Important 'we get it right'

The short-term, concrete outcome of the two-day summit was not clear as it neared its conclusion Thursday.

The day’s schedule released by the White House originally included a signing ceremony for some unspecified document. But when Press Secretary Sarah Sanders announced that a planned news conference would be moving up by two hours, she declined to comment on whether the signing would take place.

At the start of their meeting Thursday, Trump expressed a position of patience when it comes to the nuclear talks with North Korea.

“What’s important is we get it right,” Trump said.

WATCH: President Trump Looking for 'Right Deal'; Kim Not Pessimistic

President Trump Looking for 'Right Deal'; Kim Not Pessimistic
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Trump predicted long term “fantastic success” when it comes to North Korea, saying the country will be “an economic powerhouse.”

Kim noted the attention the summit is garnering, likening it to a fantasy movie while saying he will do his best to “bring a good result.”

Lowered expectations

While some U.S. officials have attempted to lower expectations for the outcome of the second summit, Trump is under pressure to extract something beyond the vague commitment made by Kim last June in Singapore on pledging to give up his nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles in exchange for a lifting of crushing international sanctions on the impoverished country.

The Singapore summit was hailed as a historical event as Washington and Pyongyang have never had diplomatic relations. When Trump took office there were fears of a renewed war with North Korea as the U.S. president threatened to unleash “fire and fury like the world has never seen” on the northeast Asian country in response to its threats against the United States and its allies.

President Donald Trump listens as North Korean leader Kim Jong Un speaks during a meeting, Feb. 27, 2019, in Hanoi.
President Donald Trump listens as North Korean leader Kim Jong Un speaks during a meeting, Feb. 27, 2019, in Hanoi.

During their talks Thursday, both Trump and Kim also expressed a favorable view of the possibility of North Korea allowing the United States to open an office in Pyongyang.

“It’s actually not a bad idea,” Trump said, after the prospect was raised by a reporter.

“I think that’s something which is welcomeable,” Kim said.

Some US skepticism

U.S. intelligence officials remain skeptical that Pyongyang intends to follow through on Kim’s Singapore pledge to denuclearize.

Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats told a congressional panel last month that North Korea “has halted its provocative behavior” by refraining from missile tests and nuclear tests for more than a year. “As well, Kim Jong Un continues to demonstrate openness to the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.”

Despite the end to testing, Coats cautioned that “we currently assess that North Korea will seek to retain its (weapons of mass destruction) capabilities and is unlikely to completely give up its nuclear weapons and production capabilities.”

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