By Yara Bayoumy and Steve Holland
NEW YORK/ABOARD AIR FORCE ONE (Reuters) – President Donald Trump on Thursday played down the chances of a quick breakthrough in talks with North Korea about its nuclear arsenal, as the top U.S. diplomat and a senior official from Pyongyang wrapped up two days of negotiations.
Trump, in a brief interview with Reuters aboard Air Force One on the way to Texas, said he was still hoping to hold an unprecedented summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un on June 12 in Singapore.
“I’d like to see it done in one meeting,” he said. “But often times that’s not the way deals work. There’s a very good chance that it won’t be done in one meeting or two meetings or three meetings. But it’ll get done at some point.”
It was not clear if Trump meant he would need a second summit with Kim to reach the U.S. goal of persuading North Korea to abandon its nuclear arms, or if he believed more lower-level talks were needed.
U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and high-ranking North Korean official Kim Yong Chol concluded two days of meetings in New York on Thursday aimed at clearing the way for the summit. State Department officials said the talks went well and progress was made.
Trump said the North Korean envoy will “be coming most likely tomorrow to the White House to present me with a letter from Kim Jong Un.”
North Korea, whose nuclear ambitions have been a source of world tension for decades, has made advances in missile technology in recent years but Trump has sworn not to allow it to develop nuclear missiles that could hit the United States.
He wants North Korea to “denuclearize,” meaning to get rid of its nuclear arms, but the leadership in Pyongyang is believed to regard nuclear weapons as crucial to its survival and has rejected unilaterally disarming.
(Additional reporting by Rodrigo Campos and Daniel Bases in New York and Susan Heavey, Doina Chiacu, Richard Cowan and David Brunnstrom in Washington Writing by Alistair Bell; Editing by Robert Birsel and Bill Trott)