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US President Donald Trump said he would consider inviting North Korea's Kim Jong-un to the White House if their summit in Singapore goes well.

 

Mr Trump made the comment after meeting Japan's PM Shinzo Abe to discuss the 12 June summit.

He said it was possible an agreement to end the Korean War could be reached, though he called that "the easy part" of the negotiations.

"It's what happens after that that is really important," he told reporters.

The US and its regional allies want to see North Korea give up its nuclear weapons but Mr Trump acknowledged that it "will take longer" than one meeting to realise that goal.

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, speaking later at the White House, said Kim Jong-un had indicated to him personally that he was willing to denuclearise - although it is not clear if that means North Korea is coming closer to the US vision of what that entails.

What did Mr Trump say about the summit?

Mr Trump said he did not want to use the term "maximum pressure" in reference to North Korea "because we're going into a friendly negotiation" but he warned he had many more sanctions he could use against North Korea.

He also said he was "totally prepared to walk" if the summit did not go well, but if it did go well an invitation to Mr Kim to visit Washington was not out of the question.

"Certainly if it goes well, I think it might be well received," he told reporters. "I think [Kim] would look at it very favourably so I think that could happen."

But, when asked about a report a day ago that Mr Trump might invite Mr Kim to his Florida retreat Mar-a-Lago, he quipped: "Maybe we'll start with the White House, what do you think?"

Earlier, Mr Trump said he did not think preparation was essential for his meeting with the North Korean leader.

"I think I'm very well prepared. I don't think I have to prepare very much. It's about attitude, it's about willingness to get things done," he said.

What does Mr Abe want from the summit?

The Japanese PM has held regular meetings with Mr Trump since the US president took office, but he has been eager to ensure Japan's interests are not overlooked in any rapprochement between the US and North Korea.

Mr Abe said he was confident Mr Trump understood Japan's concerns about its citizens who were abducted by North Korea in the 1970s and 1980s to help train its spies in Japanese language and customs.

Although North Korea has admitted to 13 kidnappings, the real figure is thought to be higher than that.

Mr Abe said he wanted to "directly face North Korea and talk with them so that the abduction problem can be resolved quickly".

North Korea's new intercontinental ballistic missile is bigger and more powerful than any missile they've ever had, and that could be a huge problem for the U.S. USA TODAYEPA (FILE) NORTH KOREA MISSILE LAUNCH POL CONFLICTS (GENERAL) DEFENCE KOR
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New commercial satellite imagery indicates North Korea is destroying a key ballistic missile test site ahead of next week's summit between North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and President Trump, a new analysis says.

Kim announced a moratorium on nuclear and missile testing in April. Pyongyang announced two weeks ago that it had set off explosions and collapsed underground tunnels at it nuclear weapons testing site. 

Joseph Bermudez, an expert on Pyongyang's military technology, published a report this week on the website 38 North saying the Iha-ri test site "represented a critical component" in development of medium range missiles and could have been used for testing larger, intercontinental missiles. 

"It is unclear whether the destruction of the stand is an indication that the North is suspending this portion of its missile program or that Pyongyang plans to erect other similar facilities in the future," the report adds.

More: Trump says he's ready for Kim summit, which is 'about attitude'

More: U.S., North Korea hammer out summit agenda — and South Korea might join in

What is clear is the continuing thaw in U.S.-North Korea relations. Trump said Thursday that he might even invite Kim to the U.S. if things go well at the summit.

"I think it would be well-received," Trump said. "I think he would look at it very favorably, so I think that could happen."

The Iha-ri test stand was the only known facility for land-based, canister-launched ballistic missile ejection test, the report says. Canister-based missiles allow for more secure transport of missiles over greater distances, protect systems from environmental conditions and reduce launch preparation times.

"This, in turn, has the potential to reduce maintenance requirements, provide for greater tactical flexibility and improve wartime survivability," the report says.

 

South Korean leader Moon Jae-in has twice met with Kim in recent weeks. The duo agreed to work on a plan to formally end the Korean War that was halted by a temporary armistice in 1953. Kim has said a formal end to the hostilities, along with a pledge from the U.S. not to attack his nation, would essentially eliminate Pyongyang's need for a nuclear arsenal.

Trump is scheduled to meet with Kim in Singapore on Tuesday. Trump had called off the meeting last week after public discourse between the two nations devolved into a torrent of angry rhetoric that had marked the relationship until recent weeks.

Trump accused Kim of showing "open hostility" toward Washington, adding U.S. nuclear weapons are far superior to North Korea's — and "so massive and powerful that I pray to God they will never have to be used."

Trump said Thursday he's ready for the summit, assuring reporters that it will be "much more than a photo-op." He reiterated his long-held position that North Korea must comply with complete and total denuclearization before he considers easing sanctions on the North's economy.

"They have to denuke," Trump said. "If they don’t denuclearize, that will not be acceptable. We cannot take sanctions off."

But most experts are tamping down expectations ahead of the summit. Suzanne DiMaggio, of the New York-based New America think tank, said a joint statement detailing what denuclearization means and setting it as a frim goal would be a success.

“And I think even that will be a challenge to pin down," she said.