Trump has held two summits with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, with the most recent one in February ending early with no agreement as the North Koreans demanded sanctions relief and the US delegation called for North Korea to give up its nuclear weapons.
In his first summit with South Korean President Moon Jae-in since the breakdown of U.S.
"We want sanctions to remain in place", Trump said, adding he has the "option" of increasing pressure but decided against the idea. "I think that sanctions right now are at a level that's a fair level". "You maintain sanctions, you're a hostile force; if you ease sanctions, you're not".
Trump, asked by reporters whether he was prepared to ease some sanctions on North Korea, said he and Moon were discussing "certain humanitarian things" and the possibility of South Korea helping the North with food.
"There are various smaller deals that maybe could happen, things could happen".
"You could work out step-by-step pieces, but at this moment, we're talking about the big deal. The big deal is we have to get rid of the nuclear weapons", the commander-in-chief said.
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Negotiations on Pyongyang's nuclear program appear to be stalled, and there is uncertainty over whether Kim is considering backing out of talks or restarting nuclear and missile tests.
At a politburo meeting earlier this week, Kim described the current situation as "tense" and repeatedly stressed that "self-reliance" was the country's best hope of countering worldwide efforts to use sanctions to force it to abandon its nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles.
Ahead of his trip, aides to Moon stressed the need to revive US-North Korea talks as soon as possible after a second summit between Trump and Kim collapsed in Hanoi on February 28. "North Korea summit" will be held.
Analysts said Kim would not censure officials for their mistakes in the Vietnam summit as that would send a signal to North Korean people that they had failed. "North Korea summit to the worldwide community, that this will be held in the near future", Moon said.
Moon did not directly address the issue of sanctions.
Moon has suggested that sanctions could be eased to allow inter-Korean economic engagement in return for some nuclear concessions by North Korea, but so far Washington has not agreed.
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Moon's Thursday meeting with Trump will be his first since the Hanoi summit.
"I didn't think it was necessary", he said Thursday at the Oval Office.
North Korea's state media said on Wednesday that Kim had chaired a politburo meeting on Tuesday to discuss ways to make progress under the "prevailing tense situation".
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo told members of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on Wednesday that the administration was fully engaged in efforts to negotiate a resolution to the nuclear standoff. The comments also signalled Pyongyang's focus on economic development following its failure to get sanctions relief from the United States at the same summit. He cited a United Nations panel of experts that warned on March 5 that there has been a "massive increase in illegal ship-to-ship transfers of petroleum products and coal" rendering the latest United Nations sanctions "ineffective".
Kim made no mention of nuclear weapons, nor did he criticise his United States counterpart, according to KCNA.
Choe Son-Hui, his vice foreign minister, said that by failing to agree, Washington was "missing an opportunity that comes once in a thousand years". She said her country might pull out of the nuclear negotiations with the United States, citing a lack corresponding steps to some disarmament measures North Korea took past year.
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