Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, left, listens as President Donald Trump speaks during a news conference at Trump’s private Mar-a-Lago club, Wednesday, April 18, 2018, in Palm Beach, Fla. (AP Photo/Lynne Sladky)

Trump could bail on meeting with Kim

President Trump says he could still pull out of meeting if he feels it’s “not going to be fruitful”

President Donald Trump said that although he’s looking ahead optimistically to a historic summit meeting with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un he could still pull out if he feels it’s “not going to be fruitful.”

Trump said that CIA Director Mike Pompeo and Kim “got along really well” in their recent secret meeting, and he declared, “We’ve never been in a position like this” to address worldwide concerns over North Korea’s nuclear weapons.

But speaking alongside Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on Wednesday, after the allies met at Trump’s Florida resort, he made clear that he’d still be ready to pull the plug on what is being billed as an extraordinary meeting between the leaders of longtime adversaries.

“If I think that if it’s a meeting that is not going to be fruitful we’re not going to go. If the meeting when I’m there is not fruitful I will respectfully leave the meeting,” Trump told a news conference. He also said that a U.S.-led “maximum pressure” campaign of tough economic sanctions on North Korea would continue until the isolated nation “denuclearizes.”

RELATED: McMaster out, Bolton in as Trump’s national security adviser

Abe echoed the sentiment.

“Just because North Korea is responding to dialogue, there should be no reward. Maximum pressure should be maintained,” he said.

Trump has said his summit with Kim, with whom he traded bitter insults and threats last year as North Korea conducted nuclear and missile tests, could take place by early June, although the venue has yet to be decided. It would be the first such leadership summit between the two nations after six decades of hostility following the Korean War.

Other than the threat posed to by North Korea’s weapons of mass destruction, another issue overhanging the summit plans is the fate of three Americans detained there. Trump said that was under negotiation and there was a “good chance” of winning their release, but he wouldn’t say whether that was a precondition for sitting down with Kim.

Pompeo raised the question of the three Americans in his meeting with Kim, a U.S. official said.

Trump also said he had promised Abe he would work hard for the return of Japanese nationals abducted by North Korea. Tokyo says at least a dozen Japanese said to have been taken in the 1970s and 1980s remain unaccounted for.

News of Pompeo’s trip to North Korea, which took place more than two weeks ago, emerged on Tuesday, as lawmakers weighed whether he should be confirmed to become secretary of state. Trump and Republican senators held up his highly unusual, secret mission as sign of Pompeo’s diplomatic ability. But the prospect of his confirmation hung in the balance as Democrats lined up against him.

RELATED: U.S. raises prospect of Trump-Putin meeting at the White House

Sen. Robert Menendez, top-ranking Democrat on the committee that will have the first vote on confirmation, expressed frustration that the CIA chief had not briefed him on the visit that took place more than a week before Pompeo’s public hearing last Thursday.

He is the most senior U.S. official to meet with a North Korean leader since Secretary of State Madeleine Albright met with Kim’s father in Pyongyang in 2000.

“Now I don’t expect diplomacy to be negotiated out in the open, but I do expect for someone who is the nominee to be secretary of state, when he speaks with committee leadership and is asked specific questions about North Korea, to share some insights about such a visit,” Menendez said at the Center for Strategic and International Studies.

The Senate Foreign Relations Committee is expected to vote on the nomination next week. Pompeo, whose hawkish foreign policy views and comments about minorities have raised Democratic hackles, would replace Rex Tillerson, who was pushed out by Trump last month.

In the U.S. Senate, Republicans have a single-vote advantage on the 21-member panel that will have the first say on Pompeo’s nomination. With nine of the 10 Democrats already declaring they will oppose Pompeo, and at least one Republican, Rand Paul of Kentucky, also opposed, the panel could be forced to take the unusual step of sending the nomination to the full Senate without a favourable recommendation.

Trump said Wednesday he expects Paul to come through on Pompeo. The president called Paul and the senator agreed to meet with Pompeo, but Paul’s spokesman said, “Nothing else has changed.”

As for opposition by Democrats, Republican Cory Gardner, who chairs an Asia subcommittee, said in an interview that they “want to play partisan politics.”

Despite meeting Pompeo on Tuesday, Gardner said he hadn’t been briefed on the trip and was awaiting more information about it. Still, he said the fact that the meeting happened gave weight to Pompeo’s testimony last week that the administration was committed to the “complete and verifiable denuclearization” of North Korea and sustaining sanctions pressure.

It is not unprecedented for U.S. intelligence officials to serve as conduits for communication with Pyongyang. In 2014, the then-director of U.S. national intelligence, James Clapper, secretly visited North Korea to bring back two American detainees. Clapper did not, however, meet with Kim, who has only in recent weeks emerged from international seclusion after taking power six years ago and super-charging North Korea’s push to become a nuclear power. Kim met last month with China’s president and is to meet South Korea’s leader April 27.

The Associated Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

James and Jamesy return to Penticton for more Christmas tea

Their Dec. 17 show explores friendship, the joy of giving, and a celebration of the imagination

Tenore trio want to celebrate a Christmas with You

The tenor group performs at Penticton’s Church of the Nazarene tonight at 6 p.m.

Help the RCMP cram the kennel today at Cherry Lane

RCMP officers and volunteers will be filling kennels with donated food and pet supplies.

Summerland college operated from 1906 to 1915

Ritchie Hall and Morton Hall were constructed for Okanagan Baptist College

South Okanagan volunteer dental clinic donates rotten teeth to good cause

H.E.C.K. recently gifted 47 rotten teeth to a search and rescue group in the area

VIDEO: SNL skewers Trudeau’s mockery of Trump in high school cafeteria sketch

The three world leaders won’t let Trump sit at the cool kids’ table

West Kelowna house fire demonstrates danger posed by candles

West Kelowna Fire Rescue says an unattended candle caused the Sunday afternoon fire.

B.C. universities post $340 million worth of surpluses thanks to international student tuition

Students call for spending as international enrolment produces huge surpluses at many universities

Conservatives urge Morneau to deliver ‘urgent’ fall economic update

Morneau says the first thing the Liberals plan to do is bring in their promised tax cut for the middle class

INFOGRAPHIC: How much money did your local university or college make last year?

B.C. university and colleges posted a combined $340 million surplus in 2018/19

B.C. creates $8.5M organization to improve safety for health care workers

Group will bring together unions, province, health care organizations

Kovrig clings to humour as ‘two Michaels’ near one year in Chinese prison

Their detention is widely viewed as retaliation for Canada’s arrest of Chinese high-tech scion Meng Wanzhou

Slippery sections reported on Okanagan and Shuswap highways

Some sections of the Trans-Canada highway have black ice on them.

Most Read