President Trump and Japanese Prime Minister Abe express optimism ahead of summit
Yuri Gripas-Pool/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) — Just days ahead of next week’s summit between North Korea’s Kim Jong Un and President Donald Trump in Singapore, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe joined Trump at the White House Thursday, using the chance to remind him of Japanese interests in the upcoming negotiations.
Standing side by side in the Rose Garden for a joint news conference, the two leaders expressed optimism about the upcoming summit, which Trump called off just two weeks ago before changing his mind again.
“I hope the upcoming meeting in Singapore represents the beginning of a bright new future for North Korea and indeed a bright new future for the world,” said Trump.
Abe, who has developed a close diplomatic relationship with Trump, praised Trump for his work in organizing the Singapore summit and said he hopes it is a “great success.”
“I would like to pay my deep respect to the outstanding leadership of President Trump, as he made this decision that no past presidents were able to accomplish,” Abe said.
Trump, once again complained that past presidents failed to deal successfully with the North Korea problem.
“This should have been solved by many others,” Trump said. “But it wasn’t so I’ll solve it and we’ll get it done,” Trump said.
Trump even said that if the negotiations are successful he would invite Kim to the White House. Still, Trump tried to tamp down expectations.
“I believe we’ll have a terrific success or a modified success,” Trump said. “And things can happen between now and then.”
Last week, after being visited by North Korea’s former spy chief, Trump said he no longer plans to keep “maximum pressure” on the hermit, communist country until it eliminates nuclear weapons. But Thursday, Trump said “yes, maximum pressure is in full effect.”
“We don’t use the term anymore because we’re going into a friendly negotiation,” Trump said.
“We’ll know how well we do with the negotiation. If you see me say we’re going to use maximum pressure, you know the negotiation did not do well, frankly.”
Trump added that sanctions on North Korea remain in place.
“They have to de-nuke,” Trump said in the Oval Office. “If they don’t denuclearize, that will not be acceptable. We cannot take sanctions off. The sanctions are extraordinarily powerful.”
In the Rose Garden, Trump described the giant, oversized letter delivered to him by North Korean diplomats in the Oval Office as “just a greeting.”
“It was really a very warm letter, a very nice letter. I appreciated it very much,” Trump said.
Before leaving for Washington, Abe told reporters in Japan, “I want to make sure to be on the same page with President Trump ahead of the first ever U.S.-North Korea summit so we can push forward nuclear and missile issues, and most importantly the abduction problem, and make for a successful summit.”
At the forefront of Abe’s wishes for the summit is the release of Japanese citizens abducted by North Korea, including one 13-year old girl who was taken away from her family 45 years ago.
“It’s the long-held desire of the Japanese people to have her and all of their abductees come home so that the parents, while they’re healthy, can embrace the girl and other abductees again in their arms,” Abe said.
Abe, the first foreign leader to meet President-elect Trump following his election, has remained one of Trump’s closet allies. Trump hosted Abe twice at his private Mar-a-Lago estate in Palm Beach, Florida.
The highly anticipated summit is scheduled to kick off with a 9:00 AM meeting between Kim and Trump in Singapore.
In a meeting in the Oval Office, Trump said he’s “very well prepared.” The president has been receiving a daily briefing by his team of national security experts, including new Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.
“I don’t think I have to prepare very much,” Trump said. “It’s about attitude. It’s about willingness to get things done. But I think I’ve been prepared for this summit for a long time.”
Both Abe and Trump head to Quebec for the G-7 summit on Friday and Saturday.
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