During a joint press conference, Trump expressed enthusiastic optimism about his upcoming summit with Kim Jong Un. He even added that he expects one day Washington and Pyongyang might normalize relations.
US President Donald Trump said on Thursday that he was "all ready to go" for next week's summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un. Speaking during a meeting at the White House with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, Trump promised that the meeting would be "much more than a photo-op."
"If they don't denuclearize, that will not be acceptable," said Trump, adding the caveat that such an outcome would likely take more than one meeting, but that he was hopeful Washington and Pyongyang could normalize relations one day.
Trump rejected an implication from a journalist that he had stopped using the policy of "maximum pressure," against Kim, saying that he wanted to maintain an open mind ahead of a "friendly meeting," but that he may have to return to tough talk in the future.
For his part, Abe pushed Trump to talk to Kim about the matter of Japanese abductees held in North Korea, as well as to make sure Japan's interests were looked after in the talks. Japan is a possible target of aggression from Pyongyang and last year, a missile test carried out by North Korea landed in Japanese waters.
Abe hopes for 'transformational moment'
Abe, on his second trip to Washington in less that two months, warned Trump not to put his guard down around Kim, but that he also hoped the summit was a "transformational moment" for northeast Asia.
Trump also applauded the work of South Korean President Moon Jae-in and Chinese premier Xi Jinping in meeting with Kim to pave the way for the talks.
Trump also downplayed rumors that he would be playing golf with Kim when they meet in Singapore next week. Former basketball player Dennis Rodman, who considers himself a friend of Kim's, was not invited to the meeting, Trump said.
In a joint press conference, Trump also praised Japanese-US business relations, and indicated he would like to see more Japanese auto factories in the US.
"The bonds between our nations are stronger than ever before," Trump said.
Abe praised the "incredible leadership" of Trump in setting up the summit with North Korea, before specifically mentioning the case of a young girl who was kidnapped by North Korean agents 45 years ago.
One reporter pointed out that Abe is the only regional leader not to meet with Kim. Abe insisted that the "nuclear issue was very important to Japan," and that he was not solely focused on kidnapping victims.
'He's prepared to denuclearize'
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo told reporters at the White House that Kim was willing to give up its nuclear weapons in line with US demands.
"He has indicated to me personally that he's prepared to denuclearize," he said. Pompeo, who met Kim in secret in April, is the most senior US official to have met the North Korean leader.
Pompeo added that he would meet with Chinese, Japanese and South Korean officials after the Trump-Kim summit to brief them on any progress made during the talks.
"I will provide an update and underscore the importance of implementing all sanctions imposed on North Korea," he said.