United Nations: President Donald Trump on Wednesday defended his work to settle a nuclear deal with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, saying he has given up nothing but his time during a June summit yet stands on the cusp of denuclearizing the North.
In a wide-ranging news conference on the sidelines of the U.N. General Assembly, Trump told reporters that despite tough U.S. sanctions against the North staying in place, he believes that Kim wants to get a deal done because of their close ties.
"We have a very good relationship. He likes me, I like him, we get along," Trump said. "He wants to make a deal and I'd like to make a deal." He wouldn't put a timeframe, however, on when the two leaders might settle the standoff. "We're not playing the time game," he said.
It has lasted for decades, flummoxed a long line of US and South Korean presidents and had many fearing war last year during a series of increasingly powerful North Korean weapons tests that experts believe put the country close to a long-time goal of viably targeting any spot on the US mainland.
Trump and his top diplomat, Mike Pompeo, are trying to get past the deadlock that has followed the Singapore summit.
Pompeo is planning to visit Pyongyang next month to prepare for a second Kim-Trump summit. Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe Wednesday also said separately that he wants to meet with Kim though no details had been decided on yet.
Trump's optimistic comments come amid widespread skepticism that Kim will actually relinquish an arsenal that Pyongyang likely sees as the only way to guarantee the Kim dynasty's continued authoritarian rule.
Although Trump maintained that he'd given up nothing in his dealings with Kim, he has faced criticism for his decision during the Singapore summit to scrap annual US military drills with ally South Korea. Critics called it a concession for the North, which has long railed against the drills as invasion preparation and proof of US hostility.