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Willing to talk to Kim: Trump

U.S President Donald Trump said talks between North Korea and South Korea scheduled for next week was an outcome of his “firm stance” and he could talk to North Korean leader Kim Jong Un on the phone. “Absolutely I would do that. No problem with that at all,” he said, when asked whether he was “willing to engage in phone talks” with Mr. Kim. Mr. Trump was interacting with reporters at the Camp David Presidential retreat on Saturday.

The North and the South are scheduled to talk next week, which is likely to pave the way for the North’s participation in the Winter Olympics in the South next month. The first formal diplomatic talks between the two Koreas in two years is taking place against the backdrop of furious public exchange of insults between Mr. Trump and Mr. Kim over Pyongyang’s nuclear capability that now threatens mainland America. Mr. Trump’s position on talking to the North has changed many times. He had once said his negotiating skills could lead to a resolution of the conflict with North Korea, but in recent times, he dismissed Secretary of State Rex Tillerson’s diplomatic efforts as a “waste of time.” Addressing the UN in September 2017, he threatened to “totally destroy” the North and America continues to maintain that it would not accept Pyongyang’s possession of nuclear weapons.

On Saturday, he said it was his efforts that led the North to the negotiating table. “Look, right now they’re talking Olympics. It’s a start, it’s big start. If I weren’t involved they wouldn’t be talking at all right now,” Mr. Trump said. Mr. Trump said South Korean President Moon Jae-in thanked him for his tough stance. “He said -- and a lot of people have said, a lot of people have written -- that without my rhetoric and without my tough stance -- and it's not just a stance -- I mean, this is -- this is what has to be done, if it has to be done,” he said, in an oblique reference to this threats earlier.

Mr. Kim has got the message that he was “no messing around,” and this could lead to a peaceful solution. “..if we can come up with a very peaceful and very good solution …that would be a great thing for all of humanity,” he said, adding that Mr. Tillerson and others were working on it.


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