President Donald Trump called for North Korea to “make a deal” on its nuclear weapons program Tuesday during a press conference in South Korea.
When asked by a reporter about the potential for diplomacy between Washington and Pyongyang, Trump, who is currently on a tour of Asia, stated that progress was being made by his administration.
“We have many things happening that we hope, we hope — in fact, I’ll go a step further, we hope to God we never have to use,” Trump said.
The U.S. president, speaking alongside South Korean President Moon Jae-in, called for Pyongyang to “come to the table” to reach an agreement beneficial to both North Korea and the rest of the world.
“With that being said, I really believe that it makes sense for North Korea to come to the table and to make a deal that’s good for the people of North Korea and the people of the world,” Trump added. “I do see certain movement, yes. But let’s see what happens.”
Describing North Korea’s nuclear ambitions as a threat to global security, Trump also called on the international community, taking specific note of China and Russia, to aid in the effort to dissuade Pyongyang.
“We will together confront North Korea’s actions and prevent the North Korea dictator from threatening millions of lives,” Trump said. “He’s indeed threatening millions of lives so needlessly.”
The Trump administration thus far has stated that any deal with Pyongyang would require nuclear disarmament as a prerequisite – a nonstarter for the North.
Trump’s statement signals a softer approach to North Korea’s missile and nuclear weapons programs, which have previously stirred bellicose threats from leaders of both countries.
Last month Trump appeared to rule out the possibility of diplomacy when telling Secretary of State Rex Tillerson on Twitter that he was “wasting his time trying to negotiate” with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un.
While the situation appears to remain tense on the surface, reports have suggested that the Trump administration has been engaged in “backchannel diplomacy” with the Kim regime since January.
Although military action remains an option, Trump stated that the U.S. and its allies will continue to use “all available tools” in order to deter Pyongyang.
“As we work together to resolve this problem using all available tools short of military action, the United States stands prepared to defend itself and its allies using the full range of our unmatched military capabilities if need be,” Trump said.