North Korean Supreme Leader Kim Jong Un on Sunday denounced claims by President Trump that their coming summit is the result of the pressure the U.S. has placed on North Korea. He cited the claims as a threat to a hard-earned improved relationship between the two countries. Just a year ago, North Korea was performing nuclear tests at a historic rate and Kim and Trump were constantly trading insults publicly. On Sunday, Time Magazine reported that Kim called statements by Trump and his administration “misleading,” denying claims that the agreement to talk is the result of political pressure and sanctions by the U.S. Sunday’s comments are among the very few comments they have made since agreeing to the meeting in March.
The North Korean leader had a historic meeting with South Korean President Moon Jae-In in April. During their time together, the two men agreed on items intended to improve relations between their countries. North and South Korea have not been at peace since the end of the Korean War in 1953 that ended not in a declaration of peace but in a truce. In that meeting, Kim also agreed to talk about denuclearizing the Korean Peninsula but neither his conditions for doing so nor details about how this would be accomplished were discussed and have not been reported to date.
Kim’s comments appear intended to strengthen his position going into the North Korea – U.S. summit as a representative for North Korea accused the portrayal of Trump and his administration of the impetus for the meeting of “deliberately provoking the DPRK.” (DPRK stands for Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, the official name of the North.) They warned that their willingness to talk should not be seen as a sign of weakness.
President Trump indicated on Friday that a time and place for the highly anticipated meeting has been determined but did not provide details. It’s expected to happen sometime in late May or early June. The demilitarized zone and Singapore have both been mentioned as possible meeting sites.
President Trump has also indicated that he and his administration are working on the release of three Korean Americans being held by North Korea. It’s hoped that this will happen before the summit between the two leaders. Trump has indicated that progress has been made.