US president Donald Trump has said he will invite Kim Jong-un to the United States if next week's summit with the North Korean leader goes well, though he warned that the US is prepared to impose extra sanctions if necessary.
Speaking in the White House Rose Garden alongside Japanese prime minister Shinzo Abe days before the scheduled summit, Mr Trump expressed confidence that the meeting will be a success. But he stressed that he did not see the summit as a "one-meeting deal".
Mr Trump also confirmed that he would raise with Mr Kim the issue of Japanese hostages abducted by North Korea.
Mr Abe flew to Washington for talks with the US president ahead of next week's summit in Singapore in an effort to put Japanese concerns to the forefront of negotiations.
In particular, Mr Abe is under domestic pressure to ensure that Japanese hostages who were abducted and remain in North Korea are released.
Noting that Mr Trump had met with families of the hostages during his visit to Japan last year, Mr Abe said he had discussed the issue at length with the US president during their bilateral meeting in the Oval Office. "I was able to have a detailed discussion and I think that President Trump fully understands the situation," he said, adding: "I think he is one of the leaders who understands the issue the greatest [and] I think that Mr Kim Jong-un will listen."
Recounting details of a seven-year old girl who was abducted 45 years ago, Mr Abe said: “Remaining time is slipping away. It is the long held desire of the Japanese people to have her and all of those abductees to come home.”
Mr Trump also spoke about the letter delivered from Mr Kmby North Korean official Kim Jong-chul to the White House last Friday from Kim Jong-un. Responding to questions by journalists, Mr Trump said the letter was “just a greeting – it was really very nice; I appreciated it very much. Nothing other than we look forward to seeing you, we look forward to the summit”.
While Mr Trump emphasised at several times during the press conference that he would continue to co-operate with Asian countries including Japan, China and South Korea on the North Korea issue, he said he would like if China strengthened its border with North Korea.
Earlier in the day ahead of his meeting with Mr Abe in the Oval Office, Mr Trump had suggested that he did not have to prepare much for next Tuesday’s summit in Singapore. “I’m very well prepared. I don’t think I have to prepare very much. It’s about attitude. It’s about willingness to get things done,” he said, noting that he had been preparing for this summit for a long time.
Mr Trump will travel to Singapore on Sunday directly from the G7 summit in Canada, where he will meet with other leaders of the world's largest economies, including those from Britain, France and Germany, and Canadian prime minister Justin Trudeau.
Washington's recent moves on trade are likely to dominate the two-day meeting, which begins on Friday, with some of America's strongest allies hit by new tariffs on steel and aluminium. Speaking alongside Mr Trudeau at a press conference on Thursday in Ottowa, French president Emanuel Marcron said: "One cannot wage commercial war among allies. Our soldiers fight side by side to defend our values."
While not referring to the US president directly, he added: "No one is eternal." As trade tensions threaten to isolate the United States from its allies, there was some reprieve from China on Thursday. Commerce secretary Wilbur Ross announced he had struck a deal with China to lift US sanctions on telecoms giant ZTE in exchange for a payment of $1.4 billion.