President Trump on Thursday hailed what he called great progress in his quest to get North Korea to abandon its nukes — but also suggested that he might be willing to accept a less sweeping deal.
“I’d have to see what the deal is,” Trump said at the White House during a meeting with South Korean President Moon Jae-in, when asked about a partial deal.
“There are various smaller deals that maybe could happen, things could happen. You can work out step by step pieces, but at this point, we’re talking about the big deal. The big deal is we have to get rid of the nuclear weapons,” the commander in chief said.
Trump and Moon were set to discuss North Korea during their White House meeting, including potential additional summits with the North’s leader, Kim Jong Un.
The president said good things have come out of negotiations with North Korea even though Washington did not get what it wanted from his meetings with Kim.
And he said that sanctions would remain in place against the rogue regime.
“We want sanctions to remain in place, and frankly I had the option of significantly increasing them,” he said, referring to an incident last month when Trump took to Twitter to abruptly cancel sanctions that had been announced by the State Department.
“I didn’t want to do that because of my relationship with Kim Jong-un. I didn’t think it was necessary. I think that sanctions are right now at a level that’s a fair level, and I really believe something very significant is going to happen,” Trump continued.
He also once again predicted a bright future for the repressive dictatorship — but cautioned it could take time.
“At the right time would I have great support. This isn’t the right time,” he said in response to a South Korean reporter’s question about industrial agreements between the two Koreas.
“At the right time, I would have great support with North Korea. I think South Korea and I think Japan and I think a lot of countries will be helping,” including China and Russia, he said about development projects in the North ”when the nuclear weapons are gone.”
And he touted the country’s prospects from a developer’s perspective.
“I just think that North Korea has potential as great as anything I’ve ever seen in terms of potential,” the president said.
“They have an unbelievable location, surrounded by sea on two sides and on the other side Russia, China and, over here, South Korea. You just can’t do better than that and they have magnificent land.”
Moon, meanwhile, said he did not view the Hanoi Kim-Trump summit as a failure, but part of a longer “process” with the North.