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US rejects criticism of N. Korea summit plan

  • FILE - In this Sept. 19, 2017, file photo, President Donald Trump addresses the 72nd session of the United Nations General Assembly, at U.N. headquarters. President Trump accepting a reported offer to meet with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un is a stunning turn of events after a year that saw them engage in a heated verbal warfare that included crude insults and mutual threats of nuclear attacks. It remains to be seen whether a summit will take place or lead to a meaningful breakthrough in the nations’ relationship. (AP Photo/Richard Drew, File) Richard Drew

  • People watch a TV screen showing North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and U.S. President Donald Trump, left, at the Seoul Railway Station in Seoul, South Korea, Friday, March 9, 2018. Trump has accepted an offer of a summit from the North Korean leader and will meet with Kim Jong Un by May, a top South Korean official said Thursday, in a remarkable turnaround in relations between two historic adversaries. The signs read: " Trump has accepted an offer of a summit from the North Korean leader and will meet with Kim by May." (AP Photo/Ahn Young-joon) Ahn Young-joon

  • A woman walks by a huge screen showing U.S. President Donald Trump, left, and North Korea's leader Kim Jong Un, in Tokyo, Friday, March 9, 2018. After a year of threats and diatribes, U.S. President Donald Trump and third-generation North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un have agreed to meet face-to-face for talks about the North’s nuclear program.(AP Photo/Koji Sasahara) Koji Sasahara

  • South Korean national security director Chung Eui-yong, center, speaks to reporters at the White House in Washington, Thursday, March 8, 2018, as intelligence chief Suh Hoon, left and Cho Yoon-je, the South Korea ambassador to United States, listen. President Donald Trump has accepted an offer of a summit from the North Korean leader and will meet with Kim Jong Un by May, Chung said in a remarkable turnaround in relations between two historic adversaries. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik) Andrew Harnik

  • People watch a TV screen showing North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, left, meeting with South Korean National Security Director Chung Eui-yong in Pyongyang, North Korea, at the Seoul Railway Station in Seoul, South Korea, Wednesday, March 7, 2018. After years of refusal, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un is willing to discuss the fate of his atomic arsenal with the United States and has expressed a readiness to suspend nuclear and missile tests during such talks, a senior South Korean official said Tuesday. Korean characters seen on the screen read: "South Korea-U.S. joint military drills." (AP Photo/Ahn Young-joon) Ahn Young-joon

  • A man walks by a huge screen showing U.S. President Donald Trump, left, and North Korea's leader Kim Jong Un, in Tokyo, Friday, March 9, 2018. After months of trading insults and threats of nuclear annihilation, Trump agreed to meet with Kim by the end of May to negotiate an end to Pyongyang's nuclear weapons program, South Korean and U.S. officials said Thursday. No sitting American president has ever met with a North Korea leader. (AP Photo/Koji Sasahara) Koji Sasahara

  • A man watches a TV screen showing North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, left, and U.S. President Donald Trump, right, in Tokyo Friday, March 9, 2018. Trump has accepted an offer of a summit from the North Korean leader and will meet with Kim Jong Un by May, a top South Korean official said Thursday, in a remarkable turnaround in relations between two historic adversaries. The signs read: " Trump has accepted an offer of a summit from the North Korean leader and will meet with Kim by May." (AP Photo/Eugene Hoshiko) Eugene Hoshiko

  • People watch a TV screen showing North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and U.S. President Donald Trump, left, at the Seoul Railway Station in Seoul, South Korea, Friday. ap photo

  • A protester stands to oppose the United States' policies against North Korea near U.S. Embassy in Seoul, South Korea, Friday, March 9, 2018. After months of trading insults and threats of nuclear annihilation, Trump agreed to meet with North Korean leader Kim Jung Un by the end of May to negotiate an end to Pyongyang's nuclear weapons program, South Korean and U.S. officials said Thursday. No sitting American president has ever met with a North Korea leader. The signs read: "Oppose Terminal High-Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) ." (AP Photo/Ahn Young-joon) Ahn Young-joon



Associated Press
Friday, March 09, 2018

WASHINGTON — 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.