Little Rocket Man, meet the leader of the reality world. In the latest surreal moment for the Donald Trump administration, the President has been invited by North Korean leader Kim Jong-un to meet with him in Pyongyang — and a South Korean official said POTUS says he will go there “by May.”
National Security Advisor Chung Eui-yong, leader of South Korean’s delegation to Washington, made the announcement to reporters gathered in the driveway outside the West Wing that Kim “is committed to denuclearization” and will halt nuclear tests. Earlier he had hand-delivered a letter from Kim to Trump inviting him to the communist nation.
Chung said that Kim “understands that the routine joint military excercises between the Republic of Korea and the United States must continue, and he expressed his eagerness to meet President Trump as soon as possible. President Trump appreciated the greeting and said he would meet Kim Jong-un by May to achieve permanent denuclearization.”
Chung offered plenty of flattery for Trump in his remarks (read a transcript below) but did not answer shouted questions from reporters..
White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders confirmed Trump’s NK visit but hedged on a time frame.
“President Trump greatly appreciates the nice words of the South Korean delegation and [South Korea] President Moon [Jae-in],” she said in a statement said after Chung’s announcement. “He will accept the invitation to meet with Kim Jong-un at a place and time to be determined. We look forward to the denuclearization of North Korea. In the meantime, all sanctions and maximum pressure must remain.”
Earlier, Trump had made a very rare — perhaps unprecedented — appearance in the White House briefing room while reporters were there, to tell them “off the record” that he had news about North Korea. The press noted that his remarks to them made in the very room where they get their news was decidedly on the record, so word spread quickly about the pending announcement. Cable news reports say Trump didn’t even alert his staff about the announcement.
So the immediate questions are: Will it be a realty-TV-style meeting in Pyongyang, complete with cameras and the First Ham playing to them? And is there truth to the rumor that Kim asked for a few cases of DVDs of The Interview?
Here is the transcript of Chung’s remarks to the press today:
Today, I had the privilege of briefing President Trump on my recent visit to Pyongyang, North Korea. I’d like to thank President Trump, the Vice President and his wonderful national security team, including my close friend General McMaster. I explained to President Trump that his leadership and his maximum pressure policy, together with international solidarity, brought us to this juncture. I expressed President Moon Jae-in’s personal gratitude for President Trump’s leadership.
I told President Trump that, in our meeting, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un said he is committed to denuclearization. Kim pledged that North Korea will refrain from any further nuclear or missile tests. He understands that the routine joint military exercises between the Republic of Korea and the United States must continue. And he expressed his eagerness to meet President Trump as soon as possible.
President Trump appreciated the briefing and said he would meet Kim Jong Un by May to achieve permanent denuclearization.
The Republic of Korea, along with the United States, Japan, and our many partners around the world remain fully and resolutely committed to the complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.
Along with President Trump, we are optimistic about continuing a diplomatic process to test the possibility of a peaceful resolution.
The Republic of Korea, the United States and our partners stand together in insisting that we not repeat the mistakes of the past, and that the pressure will continue until North Korea matches its words with concrete actions.