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Trump: May Bail on Meeting With Kim    04/19 06:09

   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."

   WASHINGTON (AP) -- 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 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.

   Other than the threat posed to by North Korea's weapons of mass destruction, 
another issue overhanging the summit plans is the fate of three Americans 
detained there. Trump said that was under negotiation and there was a "good 
chance" of winning their release, but he wouldn't say whether that was a 
precondition for sitting down with Kim.

   Pompeo raised the question of the three Americans in his meeting with Kim, a 
U.S. official said.

   Trump also said he had promised Abe he would work hard for the return of 
Japanese nationals abducted by North Korea. Tokyo says at least a dozen 
Japanese said to have been taken in the 1970s and 1980s remain unaccounted for.

   News of Pompeo's trip to North Korea, which took place more than two weeks 
ago, emerged on Tuesday, as lawmakers weighed whether he should be confirmed to 
become secretary of state. Trump and Republican senators held up his highly 
unusual, secret mission as sign of Pompeo's diplomatic ability. But the 
prospect of his confirmation hung in the balance as Democrats lined up against 
him.

   Sen. Robert Menendez, top-ranking Democrat on the committee that will have 
the first vote on confirmation, expressed frustration that the CIA chief had 
not briefed him on the visit that took place more than a week before Pompeo's 
public hearing last Thursday.

   He is the most senior U.S. official to meet with a North Korean leader since 
Secretary of State Madeleine Albright met with Kim's father in Pyongyang in 
2000.

   "Now I don't expect diplomacy to be negotiated out in the open, but I do 
expect for someone who is the nominee to be secretary of state, when he speaks 
with committee leadership and is asked specific questions about North Korea, to 
share some insights about such a visit," Menendez said at the Center for 
Strategic and International Studies.

   The Senate Foreign Relations Committee is expected to vote on the nomination 
next week. Pompeo, whose hawkish foreign policy views and comments about 
minorities have raised Democratic hackles, would replace Rex Tillerson, who was 
pushed out by Trump last month.

   In the U.S. Senate, Republicans have a single-vote advantage on the 
21-member panel that will have the first say on Pompeo's nomination. With nine 
of the 10 Democrats already declaring they will oppose Pompeo, and at least one 
Republican, Rand Paul of Kentucky, also opposed, the panel could be forced to 
take the unusual step of sending the nomination to the full Senate without a 
favorable recommendation.

   Trump said Wednesday he expects Paul to come through on Pompeo. The 
president called Paul and the senator agreed to meet with Pompeo, but Paul's 
spokesman said, "Nothing else has changed."

   As for opposition by Democrats, Republican Cory Gardner, who chairs an Asia 
subcommittee, said in an interview that they "want to play partisan politics."

   Despite meeting Pompeo on Tuesday, Gardner said he hadn't been briefed on 
the trip and was awaiting more information about it. Still, he said the fact 
that the meeting happened gave weight to Pompeo's testimony last week that the 
administration was committed to the "complete and verifiable denuclearization" 
of North Korea and sustaining sanctions pressure.

   It is not unprecedented for U.S. intelligence officials to serve as conduits 
for communication with Pyongyang. In 2014, the then-director of U.S. national 
intelligence, James Clapper, secretly visited North Korea to bring back two 
American detainees. Clapper did not, however, meet with Kim, who has only in 
recent weeks emerged from international seclusion after taking power six years 
ago and super-charging North Korea's push to become a nuclear power. Kim met 
last month with China's president and is to meet South Korea's leader April 27.


(KA)

 
 
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