The U.S. is not discussing with North Korea the possibility of removing U.S. troops from the Korean peninsula and is unsure whether Pyongyang has decided to fully denuclearise, senior Trump administration officials said on Thursday.
Ahead of a summit meeting next week between President Donald Trump and North Korean leader, Kim Jong Un, U.S. officials said the two sides would be working toward a shared understanding of what “denuclearisation” means.
The two sides will also have to come to an agreement on the very definition of denuclearisation, the official, who declined to be named, noted on Thursday.
This will be their second summit after meeting last June in Singapore.
Trump has said he is in “no rush,” as long as North Korea is not testing rockets or nuclear weapons, and has stressed that sanctions on Pyongyang remain in place.
“President Trump is looking to, after really, in some respect, breaking the ice in June, to talk in more depth about the kind of future North Korea could enjoy,” the official said,
The official noted this hinged on the “final and full denuclearisation.’’
The official was referring to Trump’s repeated talking points about Pyongyang’s “enormous” economic potential, if it can open up its economy.
Pre-negotiations between the sides are ongoing and will continue up until the moment Trump and Kim sit down for their face-to-face. Negotiators are currently in Vietnam.
The official, noting comments by U.S. intelligence leaders that North Korea likely will not give up weapons it sees as critical to the regime’s survival, said that diplomacy is taking place precisely because of concerns about Pyongyang’s behaviour.
The goal is to have North Korea “make a different set of choices,” the official said.