Trump ‘looks forward’ to meeting Kim Jong-un for a second time after North Korean leader’s keynote speech

Donald Trump, the US president, has said he looks forward to a second summit with Kim Jong-un after the North Korean leader said he was ready to meet any time. 

"Kim Jong Un says North Korea will not make or test nuclear weapons, or give them to others – & he is ready to meet President Trump anytime," Trump tweeted, citing a PBS News Hour report on Kim’s New Year’s address early on Tuesday.

"I also look forward to meeting with Chairman Kim who realizes so well that North Korea possesses great economic potential!" he said. 

Kim had used his annual speech to North Korea to issue a message to Washington that he was willing to meet President Trump to achieve their common goal of denuclearisation but warned he may be forced to take a new path if the US did not lift crippling sanctions against his regime. 

Analysts pointed to the selective nature of Mr Trump’s response as he did not comment on the rest of Kim’s address, which urged the US to take unspecified corresponding measures on nuclear disarmament and not to “misjudge” his patience. 

Since the two leaders’ first historic meeting in Singapore in June, talks between the US and North Korea have stalled over differing interpretations of what “denuclearisation of the Korean Peninsula” – a goal set out in their summit agreement – actually means. 

“We declared at home and abroad that we would neither make and test nuclear weapons any longer nor use and proliferate them, and we have taken various practical measures,” said Kim in his speech. 

In 2018, North Korea dismantled a nuclear testing ground and suspended nuclear and long-range missile tests, but analysts pointed out that he did not offer any new concessions related to his nuclear weapons arsenal on Tuesday. 

They also stressed the conditions that Pyongyang attached to future progress. 

Kim’s speech contained the expectation of a response by the US to its “proactive prior efforts” with “trustworthy measures” of its own and “corresponding practical actions.”

If Washington did so, “bilateral relations will develop wonderfully at a fast pace through the process of taking more definite and epochal measures,” said the North Korean leader. 

Highlighting the difference between what Kim said and what President Trump thought he said, Vipin Narang, an associate professor of political science at MIT, tweeted: “this is unsustainable for much longer and we are on a collision course.”

Joshua Pollack, a senior research associate at the Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey, California, tweeted that nothing had changed in North Korea’s position. 

“The bottom line: Kim remains dug into the same positions on nuclear diplomacy he has occupied over the last six months. He’s pressing the South to break ranks with the US. And he’s going to have a lot of coal dug to keep the economy humming,” he said.  

Much of Kim’s speech on Tuesday was focussed on the pursuit of national economic development.

The impact of decades of regime policy to isolate the country and cripple its economic growth by pursuing nuclear weapons programmes was highlighted by a fresh appeal by the United Nations Children’s Fund (Unicef) for $19.5 million this year in humanitarian assistance.

According to Unicef, 10.9 million people in North Korea, including 2.59 million children, are exposed to chronic food insecurity and lack access to basic services, such as health care and sanitation facilities.

The bulk of the funds are needed for nutritional support, water, and hygiene assistance.  

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