President Donald Trump is responding to North Korea’s reported willingness to engage in discussions with the United States with cautious optimism, calling it “possible progress.”
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In Tuesday morning tweets, the president noted that while “a serious effort is being made by all parties concerned” he added, “May be false hope, but the U.S. is ready to go hard in either direction!”
Earlier Tuesday, South Korea’s national security chief, Chung Eui Yong, announced that following his meeting with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, North Korea was willing to talk to the U.S. to discuss denuclearization and normalize North Korea-U.S. relations. The North, he said, also promised not to use nuclear and conventional weapons against South Korea, and made clear it would not continue with additional nuclear experiments and ballistic missile tests.
The Trump administration has repeatedly said it will only engage in direct talks with North Korea only if it commits to full denuclearization. On Feb. 23, the U.S. put new sanctions on 27 trading and shipping companies, 28 vessels, and one individual for evading U.S. and United Nations embargoes on trading oil, coal, and other fuel with North Korea. The administration also warned it might even impose a military blockade to stop North Korea’s nuclear and ballistic missile programs.
US unveils largest sanctions yet on ships, companies trading with North Korea
During a joint press conference with Australian Prime Minister Turnbull that day, Trump once again touted the steps taken by his administration and called for global unity against North Korean aggression.
“We put the strongest sanctions on Korea that we have ever put on a country,” he said. “We must continue to stand together to prevent the brutal dictatorship from threatening the world with nuclear devastation.”
When asked whether all options would be on the table if the sanctions didn’t work, the president painted a possible grim alternative.
“If the sanctions don’t work, we’ll have to go phase two. And phase two may be a very rough thing. May be very, very unfortunate for the world. But hopefully the sanctions will work,” he said. “We have tremendous support all around the world for what we’re doing. It really is a rogue nation.”