“Speed is not that important to me,” the president said. “I very much appreciate no testing of nuclear rockets, missiles, any of it — very much appreciate it.”
“I am in no rush — just we don’t want the testing and we’ve developed something very special with respect to that,” Trump added.
The two leaders are heading into a day that includes a one-on-one talk, an expanded bilateral meeting and a working lunch. They’re also scheduled to participate in a joint signing ceremony later in the afternoon local time, which indicates there’s already been extensive groundwork laid before the summit for some sort of package deal.
Although both sides say they’ve been making progress in recent months toward a mutually agreeable solution, this round of top-level talks talks is focusing on many of the same issues as last June’s Singapore summit.
Trump is pushing North Korea to give up its nuclear weapons as he dangles the prospect of an economic boost to the repressive isolated country. Kim wants to see sanctions eased without losing the strategic benefits of his weapons of mass destruction.
Trump and Kim met on Wednesday night for a brief dialogue and then were joined by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney and two North Korean officials for what the White House deemed a “social dinner.”
During two brief statements to reporters before dinner, Trump emphasized his personal connection with the dictator, saying that their bond had made “the biggest progress” and that he considers it “a very special relationship.”
“Your country has tremendous economic potential — unbelievable, unlimited — and I think that you will have a tremendous future with your country, a great leader,” Trump said before the Wednesday dinner, looking directly at his North Korean counterpart. “I look forward to watching it happen and helping it to happen — and we will help it to happen.”
That sentiment matched Trump’s recent messaging on the North Korea situation, which is that North Korea could realize a “thriving” economy if only it plays ball with the U.S.
In his statements kicking off Thursday’s talks, Trump again attempted to sell Kim on a vision of economic possibilities.
“I have great respect for his country and I believe that it will be something economically that will be almost hard to compete with for many countries — it has such potential,” Trump said.
Much of the news from the summit is expected to come from Trump’s scheduled afternoon press conference and from the anticipated reveal of some sort of U.S.-North Korea joint agreement.