HOUSTON (FOX 26) - WASHINGTON (AP) - President Donald Trump said Saturday he believes North Korea will abide by its pledge to suspend missile tests while he prepares for a summit by May with the North's leader, Kim Jong Un.
Trump noted in a tweet that North Korea has refrained from such tests since November and said Kim "has promised not to do so through our meetings."
"I believe they will honor that commitment," the president wrote.
The president continued the optimistic tone Saturday night when he led a rally for the Republican candidate in a special House race in western Pennsylvania. When he mentioned Kim's name, the crowd booed but Trump responded: "No, it's very positive ... no, after the meeting you may do that, but now we have to be very nice because let's see what happens, let's see what happens."
Trump shocked many inside and outside his administration Thursday when he told South Korean officials who had just returned from talks in North Korea that he would be willing to accept Kim's meeting invitation.
Earlier Saturday, Trump tweeted that China was pleased that he was pursuing a diplomatic solution rather than "going with the ominous alternative" and that Japan is "very enthusiastic" about the agreed-to talks.
Trump has spoken with both Chinese President Xi Jinping and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe since Thursday's announcement, and said Xi "appreciates that the U.S. is working to solve the problem diplomatically rather than going with the ominous alternative."
Trump had previously threatened North Korea with "fire and fury like the world has never seen."
Trump also said China, North Korea's most important ally and trading partner, "continues to be helpful!" Trump has repeatedly urged China to do more to pressure North Korea into abandoning its nuclear program.
Trump said in another tweet Saturday that Abe is "is very enthusiastic about talks with North Korea" and that the two discussed how to narrow the U.S.-Japan trade deficit. Trump wrote, "It will all work out!"
Trump misspelled Xi's first name as "Xinping" in the first version of his tweet about China but later corrected it.
WASHINGTON (AP) - Ronald Reagan and Mikhail Gorbachev chose Reykjavik, Iceland. Franklin Roosevelt, Winston Churchill and Josef Stalin huddled at Yalta. Dwight Eisenhower and Soviet leader Nikita Khruschev will always have Paris.
So where should President Donald Trump and Kim Jong Un meet up for the first face-to-face talks between a U.S. and North Korean president?
The Demilitarized Zone between North and South Korea is one possibility. Sweden has offered to help. And there's always neutral Geneva, Switzerland.
Someplace in Asia perhaps - such as Beijing - hasn't been ruled out. Nor, for that matter, has a ship in international waters.
The question crackled through diplomatic and government circles Friday, one day after a South Korean official announced in the dark on a White House driveway that the two heads of state who had threatened mutual obliteration for months would take a meeting.
It's not clear what location is suitable for leaders who have sniped at each other - "Little Rocket Man" vs. "senile dotard" - in nerve-rattling Twitter exchanges about nuclear war.
"It's all about optics, from their first handshake," said Lisa Collins, a Korea scholar and fellow at the Center for Strategic and International Studies. "There are 70 years of historical baggage between the two countries ... so to have the meeting in a place that's a safe location and one that doesn't overly highlight the differences between the two countries would probably be the best."
The White House wasn't offering suggestions in the hours after the announcement.
Trump, a former reality TV star, understands well the value of "optics." But symbolism, security and practicality also come into play. Holding talks in either the U.S. or North Korea seem unlikely. Traveling to North Korea risks conferring legitimacy on Kim and his country.
As for Kim: Except for schooling in Switzerland and perhaps some vacations during that time, it's not clear that Kim has left North Korea. So Mar-a-Lago, the president's Florida estate that was good enough for Chinese President Xi Jinping last April, probably won't do this time.
More likely is the no-man's-land of Peace Village in the DMZ's Panmunjom. There is a building there with a line through the middle that marks the border - and was the site of the 1953 armistice. Theoretically, Kim could shake Trump's hand by reaching over the line without ever setting foot outside North Korea. And Trump's been wanting to visit the DMZ, anyway. A shrouded-in-secrecy stop there during Trump's tour of Asia last year was scrubbed due to bad weather.
In April, the leaders of North and South Korea are to meet there for their own historic bilateral talks.
Swedish Prime Minister Stefan Lofven, meanwhile, has offered to help, given that his nation has an embassy in Pyongyang. "We are a non-aligning country," Lofven pointed out during a press conference with Trump this week. "If the president decides, the key actors decide if they want us to help out, we'll be there."
History offers some lessons in bilateral summitry.
Sometimes, talks fail. In diplomatic circles, Reykjavik, Iceland's frosty capital, refers President Ronald Reagan and Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev's hastily arranged arms reduction talks in 1986. They failed to produce a deal, but did result in iconic photos of the two leaders smiling together in the final years of the Cold War.
Other times, they blow up. "Peaceful coexistence" was the goal, but not the immediate result, of a summit in Paris between Khruschev and Eisenhower. The talks were tense over the Soviet downing of a U-2 plane in 1960 that Eisenhower was forced to admit had been spying on Russia. The Russian leader stalked out of the meeting, cooling any thoughts of a lasting peace for awhile.
It's good to have a backup venue: What were to be talks in 1989 between President George H.W. Bush and Gorbachev aboard a ship near Malta turned into the "seasick summit" when seven-foot waves forced the leaders to cancel some meetings.
Talks and the most powerful images sometimes go only so far. Egyptian President Anwar Sadat stunned the world when he set foot in Israel in 1977 and addressed the Israeli parliament. The visit set the tone for the Camp David peace summit and treaty in 1979. The Egyptian-Israeli agreement has remained intact and laid the groundwork for other Mideast summits. But the peace process has stalled in recent years.
Associated Press writer Matthew Lee in Washington and researcher Rhonda Shafner in New York contributed to this report.
WASHINGTON (AP) - The White House tried to swat away criticism Friday that the U.S. is getting nothing in exchange for agreeing to a historic face-to-face summit between President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.
White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said North Korea has made promises to denuclearize, stop its nuclear and missile testing and allow joint U.S.-South Korean military exercises. But questions remained over exactly what North Korea means by "denuclearize" and what the U.S. might be risking with a highly publicized summit that will build up Kim's stature among world leaders.
"Let's not forget that the North Koreans did promise something," Sanders said, responding to a reporter's question about why Trump agreed to a meeting - unprecedented between leaders of the two nations - without preconditions.
She added: "We are not going to have this meeting take place until we see concrete actions that match the words and the rhetoric of North Korea."
Still, the White House indicated that planning for the meeting was fully on track.
"The deal with North Korea is very much in the making and will be, if completed, a very good one for the World. Time and place to be determined," Trump tweeted late Friday.
The previous night's announcement of the summit marked a dramatic turnaround after a year of escalating tensions and rude insults between the two leaders. A personal meeting would have been all but unthinkable when Trump was being dismissed as a "senile dotard" and the Korean "rocket man" was snapping off weapons tests in his quest for a nuclear arsenal that could threaten the U.S. mainland.
North Korea's capabilities are indeed close to posing a direct atomic threat to the U.S. And the wider world has grown fearful of a resumption of the Korean War that ended in 1953 without a peace treaty.
The prospect of the first U.S.-North Korea summit has allayed those fears somewhat. The European Union, Russia and China - whose leader spoke by phone with Trump on Friday - have all welcomed the move.
North Korea's government has yet to formally comment on its invitation to Trump. South Korea said the president agreed to meet Kim by May, but Sanders said Friday that no time and place had been set.
The "promises" on denuclearization and desisting from weapons tests were relayed to Trump by South Korean officials who had met with Kim Monday and brought his summit invitation to the White House. Trump discussed the offer with top aides on Thursday. Some expressed their reservations but ultimately supported the president's decision to accept it, according to U.S. officials who were briefed on the talks and requested anonymity to discuss them.
Still, some lawmakers and foreign policy experts voiced skepticism about the wisdom of agreeing to a summit without preparations by lower-level officials, particularly given the lack of trust between the two sides. North Korea is also holding three American citizens for what Washington views as political reasons.
"A presidential visit is really the highest coin in the realm in diplomacy circles," said Bruce Klingner, a Korea expert at the conservative-leaning Heritage Foundation, adding that Trump "seemed to spend it without getting anything in return, not even the release of the three U.S. captives."
Some say Trump could be setting himself up for failure amid doubts over whether Kim has any intention to relinquish a formidable atomic arsenal that he has made central to his personal stature and North Korea's standing in the world. Kim would also boost his own standing by becoming the first of the three hereditary leaders of North Korea to sit down with an American president.
Evans Revere, a former senior State Department official experienced in negotiating with North Korea, warned there is a disconnect between how the North and the U.S. describes "denuclearization" of the divided Korean Peninsula. For the U.S. it refers to North Korea giving up its nukes; for North Korea it also means removing the threat of American forces in South Korea and the nuclear deterrent with which the U.S. protects its allies in the region.
"The fundamental definition of denuclearization is quite different between Washington and Pyongyang," Revere said, noting that as recently as Jan. 1, Kim had vigorously reaffirmed the importance of nukes for North Korea's security. He said that misunderstandings at a summit could lead to "recrimination and anger" and even military action if Trump were embarrassed by failure.
"There is good reason to talk, but only if we are talking about something that is worth doing and that could be reasonably verified," said former Defense Secretary William Perry, who dealt with North Korea during President Bill Clinton's administration. "Otherwise we are setting ourselves up for a major diplomatic failure."
The White House maintains that Kim has been compelled to reach out for presidential-level talks because of Trump's policy of "maximum pressure."
"North Korea's desire to meet to discuss denuclearization - while suspending all ballistic missile and nuclear testing - is evidence that President Trump's strategy to isolate the Kim regime is working," Vice President Mike Pence, who has visited the region, said Friday in a written statement.
However, other presidents have lodged economic sanctions against North Korea, as Trump has. And the North has made a habit of reaching out after raising fears during previous crises, with offers of dialogue meant to win aid and concessions. Some speculate that the North is trying to peel Washington away from its ally Seoul, weaken crippling sanctions and buy time for nuclear development. It has also, from the U.S. point of view, repeatedly cheated on past nuclear deals.
Without question, the North wants a peace treaty to end the technically still-active Korean War and drive all U.S. troops from the Korean Peninsula, removing what it says is a hostile encirclement of its territory by Washington and Seoul.
Associated Press writers Darlene Superville, Matthew Lee, Zeke Miller, Jill Colvin and Tracy Brown in Washington, and Kim Tong-hyung in Seoul contributed to this report.