President Donald Trump predicted Saturday that he will know almost immediately when meeting Kim Jong Un whether the North Korean leader is serious about negotiating a nuclear deal, suggesting his intuition is enough to size up the leader of the world’s most opaque authoritarian regime.
“Within the first minute, I’ll know. My touch, my feel – that’s what I do,” Trump said during a news conference in Quebec as he prepared to depart the Group of Seven summit en route to Singapore, where he is scheduled to meet Kim on Tuesday.
“You know the way they say you know if you like somebody in the first five seconds?” he added. “Well, I think very quickly I’ll know whether something good is going to happen. I think I’ll also know whether it will happen fast.”
Trump’s remarks came two days after he said he didn’t need to do a lot of preparation ahead of the historic summit because the interpersonal relationship between the two leaders would be the more important factor. Foreign policy analysts have said that Kim is likely to attempt to get Trump to agree on mostly symbolic steps, including a peace deal to formally end the Korean War, while biding time on significant commitments toward denuclearization.
“I think that he’s going to surprise on the upside, very much on the upside, we’ll see,” Trump said in Quebec of Kim. “But this has ever been done, never been tested.”
As he has in recent days, however, the president sought to tamp down expectations, after once having pledged to demand that Kim rapidly turn over his nuclear arsenal. Instead, Trump acknowledged, the summit is unlikely to achieve a major breakthrough, stating that at minimum he would like to “start a dialogue” with Kim.
“I’d like to accomplish more than that,” Trump said. But if not, “at least we’ll have met each other, we’ll have seen each other; hopefully, we’ll have liked each other. We’ll start that process. . . . But I think it will take a little bit of time.”
(c) 2018, The Washington Post · David Nakamura