WHITE HOUSE - Donald Trump said Saturday that he believed North Korea was ready "to make peace" after its leader, Kim Jong Un, declared his willingness to meet the U.S. president.
"I think it's time," Trump said at a political rally in an airplane hangar in Moon Township, Pennsylvania.
Kim is "a man who's nuked-up all over the place," but now "he's not going to send missiles up" while planning is underway for unprecedented face-to-face talks between the leaders of North Korea and the United States, Trump said.
He added that when he meets Kim, "I may leave fast or we may sit down and make the greatest deal for the world."
Trump also took credit for the success of the Winter Olympics that South Korea recently hosted, saying without his effort to reduce the threat of a nuclear attack, it "would have been a total failure."
The president quipped: "A little hard to sell tickets when you think you're going to be nuked."
In a 75-minute speech that veered into a number of topics, Trump noted the historical significance of his acceptance of the North Korean leader's offer to meet.
"Well, they say, 'Well, [former President Barack] Obama could have done that.' Trust me, he wouldn't have done it. By the way, neither would [former President George W.] Bush or [former President Bill] Clinton," Trump said. "Anybody could have done it. Obama could have done it. Obama had his chance."
Departing the White House for the Pennsylvania rally, Trump replied to reporters who asked about why he had decided at this juncture to accept Kim's offer, "I think this is going to be something very successful. We have a lot of support."
The head of South Korea's National Security Office, Chung Eui-yong, in a statement to reporters on the West Wing driveway Thursday night, said he had briefed Trump about a meeting he and other South Korean officials held with Kim earlier in the week in Pyongyang. The North Korean leader, according to Chung, "committed to denuclearization" and to suspending nuclear and missile tests.
Trump's Saturday night speech, the 20th time he has held a political rally in Pennsylvania, was to support Republican congressional candidate Rick Saccone, a four-term state lawmaker and former Air Force counterintelligence officer. It is a district Trump won overwhelmingly in 2016, but polls show the Republican in a tight race in the election to be held Tuesday with Democratic Party nominee Conor Lamb, a former officer in the Marine Corps and federal prosecutor.