President Donald Trump still intends to meet with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un before the end of May, the White House said Friday, an assertion that comes amid some confusion as to whether the high-stakes meeting will happen at all.
The White House announcement of Trump’s intentions came in the form of a readout of the president’s Friday call with South Korean President Moon Jae-in, whose office initially relayed Kim’s reported interest in meeting with the Trump.
“Both leaders affirmed the importance of learning from the mistakes of the past, and pledged continued, close coordination to maintain maximum pressure on the North Korean regime,” the White House said in its readout of the call between Trump and Moon. “President Trump reiterated his intention to meet with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un by the end of May. The two leaders expressed cautious optimism over recent developments and emphasized that a brighter future is available for North Korea, if it chooses the correct path.”
Trump’s announcement earlier this month that he would meet with Kim sent shockwaves through the world of foreign policy, upsetting decades of past precedent dictating that U.S. presidents not meet with members of North Korea’s ruling Kim family. Vice President Mike Pence had been scheduled for a secret meeting with Kim’s sister at the opening ceremonies of the Winter Olympics in South Korea, a face-to-face that Pence’s office said was scuttled by the North Koreans.
While the White House has spoken openly about Trump’s plans to meet with Kim, including discussion of preconditions that were not initially included in the president’s announcement, North Korea has been uncharacteristically silent on the meeting. The North Korean government has yet to acknowledge offering the meeting and North Korea’s state-run media, typically a mouthpiece for the Kim regime, has made no mention of it, prompting some questions as to whether the meeting would happen at all.