Ahead of his trip to Japan and South Korea, US President Donald Trump confirmed Wednesday that he would not meet with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un.
“I’ll be meeting with a lot of other people. Not … him,” he was quoted by Reuters as saying as he departed the White House for his flight to Asia.
While ruling out the possibility of a one-on-one meeting with Kim, Trump hinted that there could be an interaction. “But I may be speaking with him in a different form,” he said.
After attending the Group of 20 summit, in Osaka, Japan, on Friday and Saturday, Trump will arrive in Seoul on Saturday evening for a summit with President Moon Jae-in the following day.
Trump and Kim resumed their personal engagement by exchanging letters earlier this month, about four months after their second summit ended without a deal in Vietnam in late February.
With the US president planning to visit the Demilitarized Zone between North and South Korea, speculation has been rampant he may have arranged a meeting with Kim to revive the denuclearization talks.
Prime Minister Lee Nak-yon said Thursday that it has been said that Trump may deliver a message to the North while visiting the DMZ, which could be the “different form” of communication.
Another possible scenario, albeit quite unlikely, could be US Special Representative for North Korea Stephen Biegun holding a working-level meeting with his North Korean counterpart. Beigun arrived in Seoul on Thursday evening for a four-day stay.
Biegun is set to hold a meeting with Lee Do-hoon, special representative for Korean Peninsula peace and security affairs at the Foreign Ministry, Friday, to discuss ways to make substantial progress in the Korean Peninsula peace process. The US envoy will pay a courtesy call to Unification Minister Kim Yeon-chul later in the day.
President Moon Jae-in said Wednesday that Washington and Pyongyang officials are holding backdoor talks to arrange a third Trump-Kim meeting, in a written interview with foreign and local press agencies.
“Both sides have been engaged in dialogue in regard to a third summit. It’s noteworthy that the behind-the-scenes talks have been preceded by the mutual understanding of each other’s position gained through the Hanoi summit,” Moon said.
On Thursday, North Korea urged the US to take a new approach toward the nuclear negotiations.
“The DPRK-US dialogue would not open by itself though the US repeatedly talks about resumption of dialogue like a parrot without considering any realistic proposals that would fully conform to the interests of both sides,” Kwon Jong-gun, director-general of the department of American affairs of North Korea’s Foreign Ministry, said in a statement, released through the state-run Korean Central News Agency.
Kwon warned that time is running out ahead of a year-end deadline for nuclear negotiations. The deadline was set by the North Korean leader in April.
Relations between Washington and Pyongyang are moving forward thanks to the personal relationship between Trump and Kim, and the South has “nothing to meddle in the dialogue,” Kwon added.
“The South Korean authorities are now giving a wide publicity as if the north and the south are having various forms of exchanges and closed-door meetings, but the reality is the contrary,” he said.