- The Washington Times - Sunday, March 4, 2018

Turning serious at an event known for insider jokes about Washington, President Trump said Saturday night that he hopes pending talks with North Korea will produce positive results.

“Maybe positive things are happening,” Mr. Trump said at the annual Gridiron dinner. “I hope that’s true and I say that in all seriousness.”

He said of proposed talks between the U.S. and Pyongyang, “We will be meeting and we’ll see if anything positive happens. It’s been a long time. It’s a problem that should have been fixed a long time ago.”

Since the winter Olympics were held in South Korea last month, there have been indications from both sides of a willingness to engage in negotiations. The U.S. has said it wants North Korea to give up its nuclear weapons and ballistic missile programs, although North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has vowed never to abandon his weapons.

“I won’t rule out direct talks with Kim Jong Un. I just won’t,” Mr. Trump said.

Then, jokingly referring to the insults they’ve traded, the president said, “As far as the risk of dealing with a madman is concerned, that’s his problem, not mine.”

Mr. Trump noted that South Korean President Moon Jae-in “gave us a lot of credit” for “saving” the Olympics when North Korea wanted to participate.

“He said, ‘Without President Trump and his strong attitude they would have never called up and said, ‘Hey, we’d love to be in the Olympics together.’ And that’s true,” Mr. Trump said. “Whether people want to hear it or not, they had a very successful Olympics. That was heading for disaster. They weren’t selling tickets. … It was heading for disaster and now we’re talking.”

He said North Korea “called up a couple of days ago and said, ‘We would like to talk.’ And I said, ‘So would we, but you have to de-nuke, you have to de-nuke.’ So, let’s see what happens. Let’s see what happens.”

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