Next Meeting Between President Trump and North Korean Leader Kim Jong Un Set for Late February

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo welcomes North Korean Vice-Chairman Kim Yong Chol prior to a meeting in Washington, DC, January 18, 2019. (Photo: SAUL LOEB, AFP/Getty Images)
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo welcomes North Korean Vice-Chairman Kim Yong Chol prior to a meeting in Washington, DC, January 18, 2019. (Photo: SAUL LOEB, AFP/Getty Images)

President Donald Trump will meet North Korean leader Kim Jong Un for a second summit in late February, the White House said Friday, though it did not identify a specific date or location.

The announcement came after Trump met with a top North Korean official, Kim Yong Chol, at the White House for a discussion that touched on Kim’s unfulfilled pledge to dismantle his nation’s nuclear weapons program.

“President Donald J. Trump met with Kim Yong Chol for an hour and half to discuss denuclearization and a second summit, which will take place near the end of February,” White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders said after the Oval Office meeting. “The President looks forward to meeting with Chairman Kim at a place to be announced at a later date.”

Kim Yong Chol, a former North Korean spy chief, arrived at the White House after a closed-door meeting with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and U.S. special envoy for North Korea, Stephen Biegun. The three men met for under an hour Friday morning at the Dupont Circle Hotel in downtown Washington.

They did not respond to questions from journalists. The North Korean negotiator was reportedly carrying a letter from Kim to Trump. Pompeo left the hotel just before noon and went directly to the White House, where he joined the Trump-Kim meeting.

Foreign policy experts have sharply questioned the decision to hold a second summit, arguing that Trump should demand concrete steps toward denuclearization from the North Koreans before agreeing to another meeting.

“Once again, President Trump is rushing into a summit meeting with Kim Jong Un with no sense of what it will achieve other than showering a brutal dictator with more international acceptance,” said Michael Fuchs, a former deputy assistant secretary of state for East Asian and Pacific Affairs in the Obama administration. “With North Korea, we can’t trust – we must verify,” said Fuchs, now with the liberal Center for American Progress.

Olivia Enos, a policy analyst with the Asian Studies Center at the conservative Heritage Foundation, said the Trump administration must now get North Korea “to agree to take tangible, verifiable steps toward denuclearization.” The goal, she said, must be United Nations-mandated standards of “complete, verifiable, irreversible dismantlement of North Korea’s nuclear program.”

Both Trump and Kim Jong Un have publicly touted the possibility of a follow-up summit to the one they staged in June in Singapore. At that meeting, the two leaders signed a vaguely worded agreement pledging to work toward full denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula. While Trump hailed the Singapore agreement as a way to avoid potential war with North Korea, foreign policy analysts said the deal was so vague as to be meaningless.

Trump has sought a second meeting even though his own advisers have criticized North Korea for not following up on the pledge to denuclearize and dismantle its nuclear weapons programs.

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SOURCE: David Jackson and Deirdre Shesgreen, USA TODAY