President Donald Trump said Wednesday he is prepared to walk away from diplomatic discussions with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un if he thinks the talks are not going to prove “fruitful.”
During a bilateral press conference with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe at Trump’s Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida, the president expressed optimism that officials would be able to make progress on getting North Korea to drop its nuclear efforts. But Trump said if negotiations soured, he was prepared to skip the highly anticipated summit or leave early.
“If I think that it's a meeting that is not going to be fruitful, we're not going to go,” Trump told reporters. “If the meeting when I’m there is not fruitful, I will respectfully leave the meeting.”
Trump added that he “will remain flexible” in discussions.
The president earlier Wednesday confirmed that Central Intelligence Agency Director Mike Pompeo, nominated by Trump to be the next secretary of state, held a secret meeting with Kim in North Korea to plan for a summit between the two heads of state.
The trip marked the largest step yet toward direct talks between the two leaders since the White House announced last month that the president would meet with Kim.
Trump on Wednesday declined to say whether North Korea will need to release the three U.S. citizens held captive in the country as a precondition for the summit, but he said the two countries were discussing the matter.
“We have been talking about them. We're negotiating now,” the president said. “We are doing our very best.”
Trump said U.S. officials are “fighting very diligently” for their release, predicting that “there’s a good chance” they will be freed by North Korea officials.
“We’re having good dialogue. We'll keep you informed,” he said. “We are in there, and we're working very hard on that.”