In Korea crisis, as elsewhere, Trump's instinct is to go big

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North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo shake hands at the Workers' Party of Korea headquarters in Pyongyang on May 9, 2018.

North Korean state-run media on Thursday also reported in detail North Korean leader Kim's meeting with Pompeo the previous day in a highly conciliatory tone toward the United States, which it has often portrayed as a hostile enemy in state propaganda.

Trump said Kim was "nice" for letting the three free before a summit planned between the two leaders, which he said would occur "in a few weeks".

"We are interested in how much of our culture North Korean people know about", Do Jong-hwan, South Korea's minister of culture, sports and tourism, told ABC News, hinting that plans for plenty of cultural exchanges may already be in the works.

But he also said Tokyo will not normalize diplomatic ties with Pyongyang before resolving the issue of the abductions of a number of Japanese citizens by North Korean agents in the 1970s and 1980s. South Korea's liberal government, elected a year ago, has reached out to North Korea in recent months in attempting to settle the global standoff over Kim's nuclear program.

At the same time, Gardner said, Trump's eyes were wide open about the risks of failure and the need to be clear that denuclearization means abandoning nuclear weapons.

"They don't like being on the sideline for anything close to them, and nothing is closer to them than North Korea".

Suzanne DiMaggio, director, The U.S. -Iran Initiative, and senior fellow, New America.

"I think we have a very good chance of doing something very meaningful", Trump said.

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The South Korean minister said that the South Korean government is looking forward to a forward-looking relationship with Japan.

"What Kim Jong Un has said publicly and in discussions is that he is prepared to negotiate to achieve complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula", he said.

In the expert's opinion, Trump's statement "won't produce a negative effect on the negotiating process with North Korea".

"I think you probably broke the all-time-in-history television rating for three o'clock in the morning", the president told reporters on the tarmac at Joint Base Andrews.

Some 53 per cent of Americans approve of his handling of North Korea policy and 77 per cent back his decision to meet Kim at a summit in Singapore next month.

It followed a second visit to Pyongyang by US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Wednesday to make arrangements for the summit. Trump noted, "The true honor [of the situation] is going to be if we have a victory in getting rid of nuclear weapons".

At the end of last month, soon after the inter-Korean summit held in Peace House in the southern side of Panmunjom, Trump indicated that the choice of summit locations had been narrowed to the DMZ and Singapore.

People can be jailed by the regime for nearly anything, activists say, with crimes ranging from watching a South Korean DVD to trying to defect from the country. The majority of people in North Korea live in poverty.

And he'll have to rely on advisers with scant experience dealing with North Korean leaders, many of whom played a central role in past denuclearization agreements that came to nothing.

But Libya's program was not almost as advanced as North Korea and the country had not already stockpiled weapons.