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Donald Trump says he’s open to ‘phase-in’ by North Korea to dismantle nukes

May 24, 2018 GMT

President Trump said Thursday that he would accept a gradual dismantling of North Korea’s nuclear weapons program instead of immediate denuclearization.

“Physically, a phase-in may be a little bit necessary,” the president said on Fox News’ “Fox Friends.” “It would have to be a rapid phase-in. We are going to see. I would like to have it done immediately.”

Mr. Trump is still hoping to proceed with a planned summit June 12 in Singapore with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, although a top North Korean diplomat again threatened Wednesday night to cancel the meeting.

During a meeting Tuesday with South Korean President Moon Jae-in, Mr. Trump also suggested he’d consider something less than an immediate dismantling of North Korea’s weapons of mass destruction.

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“All in one would be nice,” Mr. Trump said. “You do have some physical reasons that [North Korea] may not be able to do exactly that.”

North Korea on Thursday carried out what it said was the demolition of its Punggye-ri nuclear test site, setting off explosions that were witnessed by foreign journalists. The planned closing was previously announced by Mr. Kim.