President Donald Trump. Photo: Nicholas Kamm/AFP/Getty Images.
During a press conference with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, President Trump told reporters Thursday he's open to inviting Kim Jong-un to the White House if the upcoming summit with the North Korean leader in Singapore ends well. However, Trump cautioned that he is "totally prepared to walk" if things don’t go well, noting he "did it once before."
The big picture: Axios World editor Dave Lawler explains that Japan has a lot at stake in Trump’s summit with Kim Jong-un, and is the most hawkish toward North Korea of the major players. Abe was expected to advise caution in his meeting with Trump, and ask him to raise two key issues at the summit: the abductions by North Korea of Japanese citizens, and short and medium range missiles that don’t pose a threat to the U.S. but could strike Japan.
The details: Trump suggested that he could normalize U.S. relations with Pyongyang "whenever things complete," but emphasized the summit is purely the beginning of that process. He also reiterated that he is committed to the goal of complete denuclearization of North Korea, but explained that he has stopped using the term "maximum pressure." If he returns to the phrase, that means negotiation with the North is "not going well."
- Abe repeatedly lauded Trump, expressing that of all world leaders, Trump is one who understands abduction matter "the most." Abe wants to ensure the issue of Japanese abductees in North Korea is a top priority of Trump's because it's a key case for the Japanese.
Between the lines: Abe has put a lot of stock in his relationship with Trump, but that relationship has been complicated by Trump’s aggressive moves on trade and the prospect of auto tariffs that could hit the Japanese economy hard.
- Trump added that the U.S. seeks "a fair and mutually beneficial economic partnership" with Japan, improve trade imbalance and vowed to ensure that any agreement makes with Kim doesn't harm Japan's security interests.