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 — if need be — 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."
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.
South Korean President Moon Jae-in, who meets with the North Korean leader next week, said Thursday that Kim isn't asking for the withdrawal of U.S. troops from the Korean Peninsula as a precondition for abandoning his nuclear weapons. If true, this would seem to remove a major sticking point to a potential nuclear disarmament deal.
Moon said the North still wants the United States to end its "hostile" policy and offer security guarantees. When North Korea has previously talked about "hostility" it has been linked to the U.S. troops in South Korea, so Kim's intentions remain unclear.