The United States is “not going to be played” when it comes to talks with North Korea, Donald Trump has warned.
Speaking while welcoming German Chancellor Angela Merkel to the White House for talks, he said discussions between the North and South had “never gone this far” after the two nations agreed on “complete denuclearisation”.
However, Mr Trump also said his leadership meant US talks with North Korea would “be different” this time around. The American President is said to be deciding between two or three locations for a summit in the coming weeks.
It comes after he expressed his delight as North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and South Korean President Moon Jae-in met south of the North Korean border on Friday.
He posted on Twitter: “KOREAN WAR TO END! The United States, and all of its GREAT people, should be very proud of what is now taking place in Korea!”
At a press conference, he said: “I want to thank Chancellor Merkel for her leadership in our campaign of maximum pressure on the North Korean regime which has helped us to reach this important step – this moment where we are right now, it’s taken a long time, many many decades to get here – let’s see what happens.
“We seek a future of peace, prosperity and harmony for the whole Korean peninsula, unlocking not only brighter future for the people of Korea but for the people of the world.
“However, in pursuit of that goal we will not repeat the mistake of past administrations – maximum pressure will continue until denuclearisation occurs. I look forward to our meeting it should be quite something.”
While speaking to US athletes who competed at the South Korea Winter Olympics earlier on Friday, President Trump said he hoped both sides would “someday live in harmony, prosperity and peace”.
“It looks like it could happen,” he added. “When I began, people were saying that was an impossibility. They said there were two alternatives: let them have what they have or go to war.
“And now we have a much better alternative than anybody thought even possible.”
US Vice President Mike Pence said a Korean peace agreement is just one step towards denuclearisation and said that “any talks, promises and assurances will be met with reservation, vigilance and verification”.
He added: “Planning for the United States and North Korea Summit continues, but as we’ve said before – the pressure campaign will continue unabated.”
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said a meeting with Kim Jong Un would be approached with caution.
During another news briefing, he said: “The economic pressure that has been put in place by this global effort – that President Trump has led – has led to him to believe that it’s in his best interest to come to the table and talk about denuclearisation.
“I’m always careful, there’s a lot of history here where promises have been made, hopes have been raised and dashed.
“President Trump has made clear we’re gong to work to get a meeting set up – the two of them will meet. In the event that it fails, respectfully President Trump will walk away and then the pressure will remain.”