WASHINGTON, April 11 (Xinhua) -- U.S. President Donald Trump on Thursday said at the White House that he would not remove the U.S. sanctions on the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK).
Speaking to the media here with his South Korean counterpart Moon Jae-in before their bilateral meeting, Trump also said that he is possible to have a third meeting with top DPRK leader Kim Jong Un.
NOT TO REMOVE SANCTIONS NOW
Trump said that "we want sanctions to remain in place" and the sanctions are now at "a fair level."
"And I really believe something very significant is going to happen. We could always increase them (the sanctions), but I didn't want to do that at this time," he added.
However, the U.S. president refused to support Moon's push for economic concessions, which include the resumption of the joint inter-Korean industrial complex, saying "this isn't the right time."
When the right time comes, "a lot of countries will be helping," he said. "When the right deal is made, and when the nuclear weapons are gone, I just think that North Korea has potential as great as anything I've ever seen in terms of potential."
Nevertheless, he said that Washington and Seoul "are discussing certain humanitarian things right now."
"South Korea is doing certain things to help out with food and various other things for North Korea," Trump added.
3RD TRUMP-KIM MEETING POSSIBLE
When asked if he has the third summit with DPRK's Kim in mind, Trump said that "it could happen ... And it's step by step. It's not a fast process."
He also left possibility open that a three-way summit with Kim and Moon "could happen also," but admitting that would largely depend on Chairman Kim.
For his part, Moon said that the personal diplomacy between Trump and Kim has created "dramatic, significant reduction of military tension on the Korean Peninsula."
On the Hanoi meeting between Trump and Kim, Moon said that it "was not a source of disappointment, but it is actually the part of a bigger process that will lead us to a bigger agreement."
The South Korean president said his "important task" now is to "maintain the momentum of dialogue" and "express the positive outlook, regarding the third U.S.-North Korea Summit, to the international community that this will be held in the near future."
Referring to the Hanoi meeting, Trump said "certain things were agreed to" and he felt good with the previous summits and enjoyed "being with" Kim.
"I think the relationship has become far different and far better than it was when I first took office," he added.
Regarding Moon's visit, Trump said that the United States and South Korea will discuss the possibility of the DPRK submitting a roadmap regarding its complete denuclearization. "That's a very prime topic for our meeting today," he said.
TRUMP STILL EXPECTS "BIG DEAL"
The U.S.-DPRK summit in Vietnam's Hanoi on Feb. 28 failed to reach an agreement as Trump said that Kim demanded an entire relief of sanctions against Pyongyang in exchange for partly denuclearizing of the DPRK's nuclear program, something the United States could not agree to.
Dismissing Trump's claim, DPRK Foreign Minister Ri Yong Ho has said that the DPRK only proposed partial removal of the sanctions, wanting those impeding the livelihood of their people to be removed first.
When asked if he would accept smaller deals to "keep the process going" as Moon wishes, Trump said on Thursday that "I'd have to see what the deal is."
"There are various smaller deals that could happen," he said. "But at this moment, we're talking about the big deal. The big deal is we have to get rid of the nuclear weapons."
In a statement regarding Trump's meeting with Moon, the White House said that Trump noted "that the door remains open to dialogue."
Trump and Moon discussed "the goals of achieving the final, fully verified denuclearization" of the DPRK and "establishing a permanent peace on the Korean Peninsula," according to the statement.
For dialogue to continue and make headway, the key is to address the legitimate concerns of the parties concerned in a balanced manner, and advance denuclearization and the establishment of a peace mechanism for the peninsula by following a phased approach with synchronized steps as a package solution, said Wu Haitao, China's deputy permanent representative to the United Nations, earlier on Wednesday.