Trump warns Kim to end nu­clear-weapons pro­gram or risk be­ing over­thrown

The Globe and Mail (Alberta Edition) - - NEWS - LOLITA C. BALDOR ZEKE MILLER WASH­ING­TON

U.S. Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump laid out a stark choice for North Korea’s Kim Jong-un ahead of their planned sum­mit next month: Aban­don nu­clear weapons and be re­warded with “pro­tec­tions,” or risk be­ing over­thrown and pos­si­ble death if the arse­nal re­mains.

Mr. Trump main­tained the sched­uled June 12 meet­ing in Sin­ga­pore is on track, de­spite the North’s threat Wed­nes­day to can­cel over con­cerns about the U.S. push to see the com­plete de­nu­cle­ariza­tion of the Korean Penin­sula.

North Korea has ar­gued it needs its nu­clear weapons to pre­serve its se­cu­rity, and has ex­pressed con­cerns about giv­ing up its nu­clear pro­gram.

The regime cites the ex­am­ple of for­mer Libyan leader Moam­mar Gad­hafi, who died at the hands of rebel forces amid a pop­u­lar upris­ing in Oc­to­ber, 2011; he had given up his nu­clear pro­gram in the 2000s.

U.S. Na­tional Se­cu­rity Ad­viser John Bolton ex­plic­itly cited “the Libya model of 2003-2004” as a ba­sis for the North Korea talks last month, which drew per­sonal re­buke from the North Korean gov­ern­ment Wed­nes­day.

Try­ing to ad­dress the North Korean con­cerns, the Pres­i­dent said if Mr. Kim were to agree to de­nu­cle­arize, “he’ll get pro­tec­tions that would be very strong.”

But Mr. Trump warned that fail­ure to make a deal could have grave con­se­quences for Mr. Kim. Men­tion­ing what hap­pened in Libya, Mr. Trump said, “That model would take place if we don’t make a deal.”

“The Libyan model isn’t the model we have at all. In Libya we dec­i­mated that coun­try.” Mr. Trump added. “There was no deal to keep Gad­hafi.”

Mr. Trump said he is “will­ing to do a lot” to pro­vide se­cu­rity guar­an­tees to Mr. Kim. “The best thing he could do is make a deal.”

Mr. Trump also sug­gested China was in­flu­enc­ing North Korea’s think­ing re­gard­ing the sum­mit, point­ing to Mr. Kim’s visit to China im­me­di­ately be­fore Sec­re­tary of State Mike Pom­peo vis­ited Py­ongyang last week to fi­nal­ize the sum­mit date and lo­ca­tion.

Mr. Trump said Thurs­day that noth­ing has changed with re­spect to North Korea af­ter the warn­ing from Py­ongyang.

He said North Korean of­fi­cials are dis­cussing lo­gis­ti­cal de­tails about the meet­ing with the United States “as if noth­ing hap­pened.”

In ad­di­tion to threat­en­ing to pull out of the meet­ing with the U.S. Pres­i­dent, the North abruptly can­celled a planned meet­ing with South Korean of­fi­cials over joint U.S.-South Korean mil­i­tary ex­er­cises.

Pen­tagon spokes­woman Dana White said Thurs­day that the sched­ule of mil­i­tary ex­er­cises hasn’t changed. She added the an­nual ex­er­cises are long­planned, de­fen­sive in na­ture and meant to en­sure the readi­ness of U.S. and South Korean forces.

Ex­er­cise Max Thun­der be­gan Mon­day and con­cludes May 25. It in­cludes air­craft from across the U.S. mil­i­tary ser­vices. Last year’s ex­er­cise in­cluded roughly 1,200 U.S. per­son­nel and about 640 South Kore­ans. This year’s drill is sim­i­lar.

Speak­ing at an Oval Of­fice meet­ing with NATO Sec­re­tary-Gen­eral Jens Stoltenberg, Mr. Trump also said he will not dis­cuss U.S. troop lev­els in South Korea dur­ing his meet­ing with Mr. Kim.

The North has said it won’t re­turn to talks with Seoul due to the ex­er­cises.

The Libyan model isn’t the model we have at all. In Libya we dec­i­mated that coun­try. DON­ALD TRUMP U.S. PRES­I­DENT

KEVIN LAMARQUE/REUTERS

Seated with mem­bers of his cab­i­net, U.S. Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump speaks dur­ing a meet­ing at the White House in Wash­ing­ton on Thurs­day.

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