President Trump on Friday hailed progress toward peace on the Korean Peninsula, but also warned that the U.S. and its allies will keep up “maximum pressure” in dealing with the North Korean regime until it is denuclearized.
“A lot of good things are happening with respect to North Korea,” Trump said at a press conference alongside German Chancellor Angela Merkel.
Trump spoke after North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un met with South Korean President Moon Jae-in in South Korea. The two leaders announced that both sides will work toward a "nuclear-free Korean Peninsula" and try to officially end the Korean War.
Trump is due to meet with Kim in the coming weeks and told reporters Friday that they were down to two potential sites for a meeting. He also said that “things have changed radically” from just a few months ago where both Trump and Kim were trading barbs -- with Trump labeling Kim “rocket man.”
But he promised that the U.S. would keep up pressure despite the positive signs from Pyongyang.
"We will not repeat the mistake of past administrations,” he said. “Maximum pressure will continue until denuclearization occurs."
He made similar warnings with respect to Iran when asked about the Iran nuclear deal, which Trump is considering pulling the U.S. from if it can’t be strengthened. He said it wouldn’t be appropriate to say if he would use military force against Iran.
“They’re not going to be doing nuclear weapons,” he said. “You can bank on it.”
On North Korea, Trump pointed the finger at prior administrations. He said that President Barack Obama warned him during the transition that it would be “your biggest problem.” He repeated his claim that the crisis should have been dealt with by prior administrations.
In her remarks, Merkel praised Trump’s leadership on North Korea.
"Today, we meet at a point in time where it has become very clear that the strength of the American president, where he really saw to it that the sanctions against North Korea are respected, has opened new possibilities, opened new ways,” Merkel said.
Earlier in the day, Trump told reporters that the U.S. had been played “like a fiddle” by North Korea before he took office. But at the press conference again expressed hope that bringing peace to the region could be part of his legacy.
"It's certainly something that I hope I can do for the world," he said.