Kim Jong Un: Some ‘Misunderstandings’ and ‘Hostility’ Since First Summit, But ‘We Have Been Able to Overcome All Those Obstacles’

By Patrick Goodenough | February 27, 2019 | 5:12pm EST
President Trump and Kim Jong Un are photographed before a dinner at the Sofitel Legend Metropole hotel in Hanoi, on Wednesday, Feb. 27, 2019. (Official White House Photo by Joyce N. Boghosian)

( – Meeting with President Trump in Hanoi on Wednesday, Kim Jong Un said the 261 days that have passed since their first summit in Singapore have witnessed many “misunderstandings” and some lingering “hostility” from the past era.

“However, we have been able to overcome all those obstacles, and here we are today after 261 days, in Hanoi,” Kim said during brief remarks for the press before a one-on-one meeting with Trump.

Much painstaking work and “a lot of patience” had been required since last June, the North Korean dictator said, but added that now the two were meeting again, “that gives us a hope that we will be successful with time.”

“And I will really try to make that happen.”

Kim, who spoke through an interpreter, did not elaborate on the “misunderstandings” and “hostility,” but seemed to imply they had come from external parties:

“So, during that 261 days since we last met, there have been some misunderstandings. There have been all these eyes from the world who are misunderstanding the situation,” he said. “And there was some hostility that still remains from the very, very past period that – from the outside.”

Kim also seemed anxious not to be seen to be criticizing the Trump administration directly. On the contrary, he said he believed that “this successful and great meeting that we are having today is thanks to the courageous decision, political decision that your team, Mr. President, reached.”

Progress in moving towards a denuclearization deal since the Singapore summit has widely been seen as slow. Ahead of this second meeting, Trump expressed a willingness to be patient, saying that he was “not in a rush,” and that as long as Pyongyang continued to refrain from nuclear and missile testing, “we’re happy.”

Trump on Wednesday’s alluded again to the issue, saying that while “some people would like to see it go quicker, I’m satisfied.”

“You’re satisfied,” he continued, speaking to Kim. “We want to be happy with what we’re doing.”

He repeated his view that the Singapore summit – the first-ever meeting between sitting U.S. and North Korean leaders – had been “a great success,” and voiced the hope that the one in Hanoi “will be equal or greater than the first.”

While Trump has been largely dismissive of criticism about slow progress in negotiations, for his part Kim has displayed some impatience, particularly regarding the issue of sanctions – which U.S. officials have said repeatedly will remain in place until denuclearization is complete.

That impatience was seen most clearly in a New Year address, when Kim warned that continuing U.S. sanctions and pressure may compel him to “find a new way” to defend North Korea’s sovereignty.

“If the United States does not keep the promise it made in the eyes of the world, and out of miscalculation of our people’s patience, it attempts to unilaterally enforce something upon us and persists in imposing sanctions and pressure against our republic,” he said, “we may be compelled to find a new way for defending the sovereignty of the country and the supreme interests of the state and for achieving peace and stability of the Korean peninsula.”

After Wednesday’s 30-minute one-on-one meeting, Trump and Kim had dinner, joined by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney, as well as by Kim’s right-hand man Kim Yong Chol and Foreign Minister Ri Yong Ho.

Thursday will see a more substantive meeting, when issues that could be on the table include North Korea’s demands for sanctions relief, the future of the regime’s nuclear weapons facilities at Yonbyon, and Kim’s hopes for a declaration formally ending the Korean War – which concluded in 1953 with a truce, not a peace treaty.

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