President Donald Trump said Friday the U.S. and North Korea are “down to two countries” in discussions over where to hold his highly anticipated meeting with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, though he did not specify which were under consideration.
“I think some very good things can happen with respect to North Korea. We’re setting up meetings now,” Trump said during a joint press conference with German Chancellor Angela Merkel at the White House. “We’re down to two countries as to a site. We’ll let you know what that site is.”
The remarks signal progress in talks between officials from the two countries in ironing out the logistics of the historic summit, which Trump said will take place “in the coming weeks.” Last week the president said that five countries had been under consideration to host the talks. Asked whether he has directly communicated with Kim, the president declined to comment.
Trump earlier on Friday weighed in on the historic meeting between the leaders of North and South Korea, tweeting that “good things are happening, but only time will tell!” The president‘s tweet comes as South Korean President Moon Jae-in and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un met in South Korea on Friday. The meeting marked the first time a leader of the reclusive North Korean Kim dynasty has visited the South since the Korean War ended in 1953.
Kim and Moon on Friday agreed to push for denuclearizing their respective countries and to end hostilities over “land, sea and air,” according to the Associated Press. “After a furious year of missile launches and Nuclear testing, a historic meeting between North and South Korea is now taking place. Good things are happening, but only time will tell!” Trump followed that post with another tweet Friday morning, writing, “KOREAN WAR TO END! The United States, and all of its GREAT people, should be very proud of what is now taking place in Korea!”
Please do not forget the great help that my good friend, President Xi of China, has given to the United States, particularly at the Border of North Korea. Without him it would have been a much longer, tougher, process!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) April 27, 2018
Trump went on to tweet effusive praise for Chinese President Xi Jinping. The president appeared slightly more optimistic about the prospect of peace on the Korean Peninsula later Friday when he welcomed to the White House members of Team USA who participated in the 2018 Olympic Winter Games, which took place in February in Pyeongchang, South Korea.
“Hopefully the day will come when Olympic athletes can compete on a Korean Peninsula that is free of nuclear weapons, and where all Koreans can live together and can share their dreams,” Trump said. “It would be a wonderful thing to do.” Flanked by dozens of American athletes sporting white windbreakers and glossy medals, Trump seized upon the largely congratulatory ceremony to take credit for recent diplomatic overtures in the region.
“I want to express my hope that all the people of Korea — North Korea and South — can someday live in harmony, prosperity and peace, and it looks like it could happen,” he said. “When I began, people were saying that was an impossibility. They said there were two alternatives — let them have what they have, or go to war. And now we have a much better alternative than anybody thought even possible.”
Trump also said he will “be meeting with Kim Jong Un in the coming weeks” in an attempt to “denuclearize the North Korean area and the entire Korean Peninsula,” though in recent days he has declined to state definitively that such a summit will actually take place.
Asked later what he would do if Kim was acting insincerely in his efforts to come to a diplomatic agreement with the U.S, Trump said that he didn’t think the North Korea leader was “playing” with U.S. officials. Speaking to reporters at the White House alongside German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Trump also took an indirect jab at his predecessors for their approach on North Korea.
“The United States in the past was played like a fiddle,” he said. The president added that his administration is “not going to be played” by Kim and that he was prepared to walk away from talks if the situation worsened. “It could be that I walk out quickly with respect, or could be that the meeting doesn’t even take place. Who knows?” Trump told the hosts of “Fox & Friends” in a phone interview on Thursday.
Trump is set to meet with Kim, a leader who the president has described previously as a “madman” and a “maniac,” but whom Trump has recently praised as “very honorable.” Trump previously vowed to destroy North Korea if it continued to threaten the United States. The president made his comments in September after reports surfaced that North Korea could fit a miniaturized nuclear warhead inside a missile.