US President Donald Trump has said he would “certainly” invite North Korean leader Kim Jong Un to visit the United States if summit negotiations in Singapore go well.
However, Mr Trump said at a joint news conference with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on Thursday that he was also “totally prepared to walk” if things did not go well, noting that he “did it once before”.
Mr Trump said he would probably favour the White House over his private Mar-a-Lago club in Palm Beach, Florida, as a venue for hosting Mr Kim, saying: “Maybe we’ll start with the White House.”
He also said he believed “attitude” would be more important than preparation as he looked to negotiate an accord with Mr Kim to denuclearise the Korean Peninsula.
Characterising the upcoming talks with the third-generation autocrat as a “friendly negotiation”, Mr Trump said: “I really believe that Kim Jong Un wants to do something.”
His comments came as he looked to reassure allies that he would not give away the store in pursuit of a legacy-defining deal with Mr Kim, who has long sought to cast off his pariah status on the international stage.
The North has faced crippling diplomatic and economic sanctions as it has advanced development of its nuclear and ballistic missile programmes.
Declaring the summit to be “much more than a photo-op”, he predicted “a terrific success or a modified success” when he meets with Mr Kim next Tuesday. He said the talks would start a process to bring about a resolution to the nuclear issue.
“I think it’s not a one-meeting deal,” he said. Asked how many days he would be willing to stay to talk with Mr Kim, Mr Trump said: “One, two three, depending on what happens.”
Still he predicted he would know very quickly whether Mr Kim was serious about dealing with US demands.
“They have to de-nuke,” he said. “If they don’t denuclearise, that will not be acceptable. And we cannot take sanctions off.”
Mr Trump, who coined the term “maximum pressure” to describe US sanctions against the North, said they would be an indicator for the success or failure of the talks.
“We don’t use the term anymore because we’re going into a friendly negotiation,” he said. “Perhaps after that negotiation, I will be using it again. You’ll know how well we do in the negotiation. If you hear me saying, ‘We’re going to use maximum pressure,’ you’ll know the negotiation did not do well, frankly.”
At another point, he said it was “absolutely” possible he and Mr Kim could sign a declaration to end the Korean War. The 1950-53 conflict ended with an armistice but not a formal peace treaty.
Since taking office, Mr Trump has repeatedly accused his predecessors of failing to address the nuclear threat from a nation that launched its atomic program in the 1960s and began producing bomb fuel in the early 1990s. Past administrations have also used a combination of sanctions and diplomacy to seek denuclearisation, but the results failed to endure.