President Donald Trump said Monday he remains confident that North Korean leader Kim Jong Un intends to follow through on his broad pledges of denuclearization, even as Pyongyang erupted at the US following meetings with the US secretary of state.
“I have confidence that Kim Jong Un will honor the contract we signed &, even more importantly, our handshake,” Trump tweeted on Monday. “We agreed to the denuclearization of North Korea.”
Trump also pointed a finger at China, accusing North Korea’s powerful neighbor of possibly “exerting negative pressure on a deal” because of ongoing US-China trade disputes.
“Hope not!” Trump tweeted.
The US President’s tweet came two days after North Korea accused the Trump administration of approaching talks with “gangster-like” demands for unilateral North Korean denuclearization immediately following Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s latest round of talks with North Korean officials in Pyongyang.
The North Korean statements run counter to Trump administration hopes that Kim is charting a new course for North Korean denuclearization and prompted North Korea experts to warn that Kim was repeating the same tactics his father and grandfather used during previous rounds of similar talks.
Trump emerged from his Singapore summit with Kim boldly declaring that the US and North Korea had achieved a historic result and that North Korea was “no longer a nuclear threat,” even though North Korea agreed on paper to no concrete actions or specific timeline for denuclearization — merely reiterating previous unfulfilled commitments to peace and denuclearization.
Trump still appears to believe that the document he and Kim signed at the conclusion of their Singapore summit holds more weight than experts believe, referring to it on Monday as a “contract” and reaffirming the importance of his personal interactions with Kim by touting their “handshake.”
Pompeo on Sunday brushed aside the North Korean statements in Tokyo on Sunday, responding: “If those requests were gangster-like, the world is a gangster.”
Joel Wit, a senior fellow at the Stimson Center and founder of 38 North, a website focused on North Korea analysis, said it wasn’t likely that Pyongyang was acting at China’s behest, as Trump and South Carolina Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham claim.
“The North Korea pronouncement was very typical of their pronouncement. It was not aberration, it was very typical of their foreign ministry statements, so you know, I just think he’s wrong,” Wit said.