Washington — President Trump announced on Thursday that his meeting with the North Korean leader, Kim Jong-un, will be held on June 12 in Singapore. The announcement came in a tweet just hours after Trump met the three recently freed American hostages at Joint Base Andrews, where they arrived in the middle of the night after their release by North Korea.
The summit will be the first face-to-face meeting between a sitting American President and the North Korean leader. Releasing the hostages removed a significant obstacle for Trump as he heads into the peace talks. A senior US official said their release was an American condition to the talks. The President praised Kim and said he was “nice in letting them go before the meeting”. Last year Trump and Kim threatened nuclear war against each other’s countries.
Now, Trump hopes to convince Kim to abandon his nuclear weapons and the missiles that can carry them. When Trump greeted the hostages in the early morning hours, he told reporters that his proudest achievement will be “when we denuclearise that entire peninsula”. “Hopefully everything is going to work out at the highest level,” Trump said earlier on Thursday. “We want to thank Kim Jong-un, who really was excellent to these three incredible people.”
The Senate Democratic leader, Chuck Schumer, of New York, said he could not understand the praise Kim was receiving from Trump and others for releasing the three prisoners. “We can’t be fooled into giving the North Korean regime credit for returning Americans that never should have been detained in the first place. American citizens are not diplomatic bargaining chips,” Schumer said on the Senate floor on Thursday.
“So while we celebrate the return of the three Americans for the sake of their freedom and their families, we should not feel like we need to give Kim Jong-un anything in return.” The Senate majority leader, Mitch McConnell, congratulated the Trump administration for what he described as a “significant step”.