Kim Jong Un is willing to wait “with patience” until year’s end for a breakthrough in talks with the U.S., the North Korean leader said in a speech before a party congress, state media reported Saturday.
In his most extensive public remarks on the stalled talks since a February summit in Hanoi ended in failure, Kim accused the U.S. of provocations for resuming military exercises with South Korea but said he is open to a third meeting with President Trump. He reiterated North Korea’s long-standing position that economic sanctions would do little to break its will.
“If the U.S. continues its current political calculus, any hope for a solution is grim and very dangerous,” Kim said before the country’s Supreme People’s Assembly on Friday, the Korean Central News Agency reported. “With that kind of consideration, sitting down with us a hundred times or a thousand times will not make us budge, and they will not get what they are seeking.”
With talks between the U.S. and North Korea having ground to a halt since the Hanoi summit, the second meeting between Trump and Kim, observers have been watching to see whether North Korea will return to missile or nuclear tests, parsing satellite images for activity at launch sites.
Kim’s comments came as Trump signaled he would take nuclear diplomacy with North Korea “step by step” as he met with South Korean President Moon Jae-in in Washington on Thursday.
At the same time, Trump told reporters that what the U.S. was seeking from North Korea was “the big deal” — North Korea giving up all of its nuclear capabilities in one fell swoop rather than in smaller increments in exchange for incentives.
The no-deal summit was a disappointment after many observers had anticipated the two leaders would put specifics to the vague pledges that came out of Trump and Kim’s first historic summit in Singapore last June — they agreed at the time to work toward denuclearization on the Korean peninsula.
In his speech on Friday, Kim accused the U.S. of provocations for resuming military exercises with South Korea. After Trump abruptly announced the end of joint military exercises between the allies after the Singapore summit, the U.S. and South Korea this spring conducted reduced-scale training under the name Dong Maeng — “alliance” in Korean.
“As blowing winds create waves, the more explicit the U.S.’s hostile policies toward North Korea become, we will act accordingly,” Kim said.
Even so, Kim made a point of touting his relationship with Trump, saying the two men “maintain an excellent relationship and can exchange letters whenever we wish.”
He also said South Korea should not act as a “mediator” or “catalyst” in the talks but a participant “defending the interests of the people.”