After announcing last week that the planned historic summit with North Korean’s Kim Jong Un had been canceled because of the dictator’s “tremendous anger and open hostility,” President Trump said Friday after meeting with a top North Korean aide that the summit will take place June 12 in Singapore as originally planned.
And the summit could bring about the official end of the Korean War, Trump told reporters on the White House lawn.
“I think it’s probably going to be a very successful, ultimately a successful process,” he said.
Trump said his meeting Friday in the Oval Office with Kim Yong Chol, Kim Jong Un’s top aide, was a “great start,” confirming the official gave him a personal letter from the North Korean dictator.
Trump said a meeting that was intended to be only about “the delivery of a letter,” which he said he had not read yet, turned out to be an extended conversation with the “second most powerful man in North Korea” that led to restoration of the summit.
“We talked about a lot of things,” Trump said. “We really did. But the big deal will be on June 12.”
“We’re going to deal,” he said.
One week ago, Trump, whose stated objective is denuclearization of the rogue regime, sent a letter to Kim Jong Un declaring the meeting had been canceled and lamenting the world and North Korea had missed a “great opportunity for lasting peace and great prosperity.”
On Friday, however, Trump was posing for photos on the White House lawn with Kim Yong Chol, the highest-ranking North Korean official to visit the United States since Vice Marshal Jo Myong Rok visited Washington in 2000 to meet President Bill Clinton.
In his May 24 letter canceling the summit, Trump said he believed that based “on the tremendous anger and open hostility displayed in your most recent statement, I feel it is inappropriate, at this time, to have this long-planned meeting.’
“Therefore, please let this letter serve to represent that the Singapore summit, for the good of both parties, but to the detriment of the world, will not take place.” North Korea responded by insisting the U.S. bore responsibility for any breakdown in negotiations
Trump ‘holds the cards’
Last week, an Asia expert said he still believed the meeting would take place, insisting Trump “holds the cards” and “the most important thing is not what Kim wants, but what is President Trump willing to do.”
U.S. and U.N. sanctions, pointed out Gordon Chang have been “crimping the flow of money to North Korea” and Kim “does not want the U.S. to strike both his missile and nuclear facilities.”
Chang explained that what has made Trump’s approach different than previous presidents is the sanctions and the president’s declarations of his willingness to use force, “that he will not allow North Korea to strike the homeland.”
In addition, the appointments of Mike Pompeo as secretary of state and John Bolton as national security adviser have “unnerved the North Koreans, and also the South Koreans and the Chinese.”
As WND noted in an analysis one year ago, Pyongyang’s chief tactic since 1994 could be described as “nuclear blackmail,” essentially issuing periodic threats to launch a nuclear missile at U.S. allies in Asia, or the U.S. itself, followed by negotiations, an easing of sanctions and aid.
Chang said there is a “Kim family playbook” that Kim Jong Un learned from his father, Kim Jong Il, and his grandfather.
“Right now, though, the sanctions are really starting to hurt Kim Jong Un. You don’t have money, you can’t launch missiles. You can’t detonate nukes, ” Chang said.
“And you can’t engage in gift politics, which is basically a Kim ruler giving luxury items, Mercedes and Rolexes, to senior regime elements to buy loyalty.”
Evidence sanctions working
In an interview May 20 with the Fox News Channel’s Mark Levin, Chang said evidence is surfacing that North Korea “is really hurting,” largely as a result of the sanctions.
He pointed to the North Korean soldier who defected Nov. 13 by crossing the DMZ to South Korea and was found to have 11-inch parasites in his stomach.
“That’s because they have human excrement as fertilizer. We’ve known that for a long time,” Chang said.
“What was really significant, though, was the soldier had uncooked kernels of corn in his digestive track, which meant that he was scrounging for food.”
The development is important, Chang said, because the soldiers assigned to the highly sensitive DMZ tend to be well-connected, often with family in Pyongyang.
“The regime had every reason in the world to keep this guy well fed. They couldn’t do it.”
Chang noted also that rations, even for elite officials, have been reduced, and China said the Kim family slush fund, Office 39, is running low of cash.
China not as cooperative?
An analysis of North Korea on the Strategy Page blog said many of the new defectors are officials who run into financial problems while engaged in corrupt activities and are confronted with the choice of “run or die.”
In February, a senior North Korean official named Kang, stationed in northeast China, slipped across the border and took top secret documents with him.
The North Korean government dispatched seven agents into China with orders to find Kang and execute him immediately.
The Strategy Page said the agents failed, “apparently because they were unable to obtain sufficient assistance from their Chinese counterparts.”
Another three agents, more experienced and better financed, were then sent after Kang with the same “execute on sight” orders.
But Kang managed to make his way to a European country, a NATO member, where he has sought asylum.
The Strategy Page noted that after a 2016 incident in which Thae Yong Ho, a senior North Korean diplomat, escaped with his wife and two sons to South Korea, Pyongyang ordered that senior officials posted abroad could no longer take their immediate families with them.
In Kang’s case, however, his son had recently been accused of corrupt activities and was apparently going to be punished.