Second North Korea summit may take place ‘quite soon’

DISCUSSIONS AT THE U.N.— President Donald Trump, center, and U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley, right, talk with United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres at the United Nations General Assembly, Monday, at U.N. Headquarters. -- Associated Press

UNITED NATIONS — Confronting the dangers of North Korea’s nuclear threat, President Donald Trump arrived at the United Nations on Monday striking a far less ominous tone than a year ago, announcing he likely will hold a second summit with Kim Jong Un “quite soon.”

Twelve months after Trump stood at the rostrum of the U.N. General Assembly and derided Kim as “Rocket Man,” the push to denuclearize the Korean Peninsula is a work in progress, although fears of war have given way to dreams of rapprochement. The president’s bellicose denunciations of Pyongyang have largely given way to hopeful notes.

“It was a different world,” Trump said Monday of his one-time moniker for the North Korean leader. “That was a dangerous time. This is one year later, a much different time.”

He added that preparations are underway by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo for a second presidential meeting with Kim “quite soon.”

The meeting would come despite U.S. officials assessing that the North has not followed through on its commitments to take steps toward denuclearization. Pompeo defended Trump’s decision to seek another meeting despite the slow progress.

“We’ve been at this the other way an awfully long time and failed,” he said.

He added: “We tried to do details. We tried to do step for step. We tried to do trade for trade. Each of those failed.”

Pompeo said, “We’re bringing the two senior leaders, the individuals who can actually make the decisions that will move this process forward,” in hopes they can make a breakthrough.

Trump arrived at the U.N. on Monday morning for a meeting on the global drug trade, ahead of a sit-down with South Korean President Moon Jae-in, who comes bearing a personal message to Trump from Kim after their inter-Korean talks last week.

Trump and Moon are expected to sign a new version of the U.S.-South Korean trade agreement, one of Trump’s first successes in his effort to renegotiate trade deals on more favorable terms for the U.S. Even so, some U.S. officials worry that South Korea’s eagerness to restore relations with the North could reduce sanctions pressure on Kim’s government, hampering efforts to negotiate a nuclear accord.

The nuclear threat was on the agenda at Trump’s first meeting in New York, a dinner with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe in Manhattan on Sunday night. Abe stands first among world leaders in cultivating a close relationship with the president through displays of flattery that he has used to advance his efforts to influence the unpredictable American leader.

“We have our eyes wide open,” Pompeo told NBC’s “Meet the Press” on Sunday. “There is a long ways to go to get Chairman Kim to live up to the commitment that he made to President Trump and, indeed, to the demands of the world in the U.N. Security Council resolutions to get him to fully denuclearize.”

Trump, redoubling his commitment to “America First” on the most global of stages, will stress his dedication to the primacy of U.S. interests while competing with Western allies for an advantage on trade and shining a spotlight on the threat that he says Iran poses to the Middle East and beyond.

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