Trump Optimistic as Kim Summit at Hand

As the two leaders prepare for high-stakes meeting, the president enters with 'confidence, a positive attitude, and eagerness for real progress'

by Kathryn Blackhurst | Updated 11 Jun 2018 at 12:18 PM

President Donald Trump will leave Singapore approximately 11 hours after the first meeting with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un at the historic summit because discussions between the two nations “have moved more quickly than expected,” White House press secretary Sarah Sanders said Monday.

“The discussions between the United States and North Korea are ongoing and have moved more quickly than expected,” Sanders said in a statement, revealing that Trump will meet Kim at 9 a.m. Tuesday in Singapore, which is 9 p.m. EST Monday.

“Following the initial greeting, President Trump and Chairman Kim will participate in a one-on-one meeting, with translators only, an expanded bilateral meeting, and a working lunch,” Sanders said, noting that Trump “will participate in a media availability before departing tomorrow at approximately 8 p.m. for the United States.”

The U.S. delegation attending the bilateral meeting with Trump and Kim includes Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, Sanders, White House chief of staff John Kelly, national security adviser John Bolton, U.S. Ambassador to the Philippines Sung Kim, and National Security Council Senior Director for Asia Matt Pottinger.

Trump will become the first U.S. president to meet with North Korea’s leader since the communist nation was formed in 1948. As the two leaders enter the final stages of their preparations to discuss denuclearization and related issues, Pompeo told reporters Monday that Trump “is going into this meeting with confidence, a positive attitude, and eagerness for real progress.”

"[Trump] has made it clear that, if Kim Jong-un denuclearizes, there is a brighter future for North Korea. Tomorrow, we will get our clearest indication to date whether Chairman Kim Jong-un shares this vision," Pompeo said. "Trump is fully prepared for the meeting tomorrow."

For his own part, Trump said Monday during a meeting with Singapore's prime minister, Lee Hsien Loong, that "We've got a very interesting meeting, in particular, tomorrow, and I just think it's going to work out very nicely."

Trump also said during a press conference Saturday at the Group of Seven (G-7) meeting that he'll gauge Kim's mindset "within the first minute" of meeting him in Singapore.

"I feel that Kim Jong-un wants to do something great for his people," Trump said, noting that he has "done very well with deals" himself. "It's a one-time shot, and I think it's going to work out very well."

Foreign policy expert Gordan Chang noted Monday on "The Laura Ingraham Show" that Trump's willingness to meet with Kim face-to-face is a "concession" of sorts that was necessary to bring the high-stakes meeting to fruition.

"Up until now, it's only been the North Koreans who have made concessions," said Chang, a Daily Beast contributor and author of "The Coming Collapse of China." "They released those three Americans last month, and also, of course, they made denuclearization pledges through the South Korean president, Moon Jae-in."

"Now we have this meeting. This is something that Kim has always craved — not only him, but his father and grandfather — because they wanted the legitimization of being seen with the American president," Chang continued. "So this is an important concession that the United States is making to North Korea."

Related: Graham: Will It Be 'Peace or War'?

In exchange for meeting with Kim, Chang hopes "we get what we need from this," including complete denuclearization, the relinquishment of all ballistic missiles and weapons infrastructure, and also "the most strict inspections regime on earth."

Pompeo also noted that the U.S. is "prepared" to make "security assurances" to Kim ensuring the survival of his regime because the U.S. deems them "necessary and appropriate."

"The ultimate objective we seek from diplomacy with North Korea has not changed: The complete and verifiable and irreversible denuclearization of the Korean peninsula is the only outcome that the United States will accept," Pompeo insisted. "These discussions ... will set the framework for the hard work that will follow."

Pompeo said he remains "very optimistic" that "we will have a successful outcome from tomorrow's meeting between the two leaders."

PoliZette writer Kathryn Blackhurst can be reached at [email protected]. Follow her on Twitter.

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