Just one week after cancelling the June 12 summit with Kim Jong-un, President Trump announced on Friday that the talks are back on and will take place as they were already scheduled.
The announcement comes after a visit by North Korea’s Vice Chairman Kim Yong Chol, who hand-delivered a letter to Trump from Kim Jong-un. Trump says the two also talked about the possibility of ending the Korean War, which began in 1950.
All of this progress has President Trump talking much more positively about the prospects of the summit, saying “I don’t even want to use the term maximum pressure anymore.” Trump also added that while there were hundreds of new sanctions that could be imposed, he would not implement any new sanctions while talks are ongoing.
That’s a major change, as the administration had previously suggested that sanctions were the only reason talks were possible, and some officials presented new sanctions as a way to increase the odds of making a good deal.
The summit is the latest in a series of summits North Korea has managed to secure since the beginning of the year. Since January, Kim has met twice with China’s President Xi, and twice with South Korea’s President Moon. In addition to the upcoming Trump meeting, Kim also announced yesterday he will have a summit in Russia with President Putin. Japanese PM Abe Shinzo has also expressed openness at such a meeting.
When President Trump cancelled the summit, he said it was because of North Korean hostility. He has subsequently praised North Korea for its calm reaction to the cancellation, and that, along with several subsequent meetings between US and North Korean officials have gone a long way toward reversing the decision.
In addition to a peace deal, Trump and Kim are expected to begin talks on denuclearizaiton of the Korean Peninsula. Kim has said he is willing to give up his nuclear arsenal, and getting assurances that the US won’t attack him once he disarms is a major part of that process.
Trump says he’s not expecting to sign such a deal at the first meeting, but that further progress will be made in talks that follow.