President Trump reacts to people’s cheers Friday on the South Lawn. (Carolyn Kaster/AP)
President Trump will host South Korean President Moon Jae-in at the White House later this month as part of preparations for the planned summit between Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, the White House said Friday.
The May 22 meeting “affirms the enduring strength of the United States-Republic of Korea alliance and the deep friendship between our two countries,” press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said.
Trump’s meeting with Kim is expected in late May or early June. Moon held his own summit with Kim on April 27, at the heavily militarized border between the two Koreas. That session was considered among the last steps before Trump could schedule a face-to-face meeting with Kim.
Another step may be the release of three Americans held in North Korea, which would be a significant show of goodwill from Kim. Trump attorney Rudolph W. Guiliani had predicted their release this week, and Trump suggested it may be imminent.
Trump said Friday that the date and time for his session with Kim are set and would be announced soon. The meeting would be an extraordinary development after more than a year of insults and escalating tension between the United States and nuclear-armed North Korea.
“I think you’re going to see very good things,” Trump said. “As I said yesterday, stayed tuned.”
The White House denied Friday that Trump has ordered the Pentagon to present options for withdrawal of U.S. forces from South Korea.
Moon came to power last year with a promise to try to improve North-South relations. He made a bold gesture with the invitation to North Korea to send athletes and a delegation to the Winter Olympics, held in South Korea earlier this year. Trump has taken credit for jump-starting diplomacy by giving Moon his “blessing.”
South Korean officials made an unusual trip to North Korea after the February Olympics and then in March carried to Trump the North’s offer to meet directly with the U.S. president. Trump stunned nearly everyone involved by agreeing on the spot.