Trump reassures Kim he’d remain in power
WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump on Thursday reassured North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un that he would remain in power under a nuclear deal with the United States, emphasizing that his administration is not seeking a regime change amid threats from Pyongyang to cancel a historic summit next month.
In impromptu remarks at the White House, Trump sharply contradicted national security adviser John Bolton, who had said the administration would ask North Korea to emulate the “Libya model” from 2003, in which the Moammar Gaddafi regime relinquished its nascent nuclear weapons program.
A top Kim aide blasted Bolton this week, blaming the Libya deal for Gaddafi’s eventual downfall in an internationally backed popular uprising in 2011.
“The Libya model isn’ t the model that we have at all when we’re thinking of North Korea,” Trump said. “In Libya, we decimated that country.”
By contrast, Trump said, a deal with North Korea “would be with Kim Jong Un, something where he’d be there, he’d be in his country, he’d be running his country, his country would be very rich, his country would be very industrious.”
Trump’s predecessors, including presidents Barack Obama and George W. Bush, also maintained North Korea policies that did not call for a regime change. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, who has met with Kim twice in Pyongyang over the past two months, has reportedly told him directly that the United States is not seeking his removal from power.
But Trump’s remarks represented a remarkable public guarantee aimed at trying to assuage the North Koreans and ensure they would not back out of the summit, which is scheduled for June 12 in Singapore.
“If we make a deal, I believe Kim Jong Un would be very, very happy,” Trump said.
Trump and his aides have continued to insist that the Kim regime must agree to give up its nuclear program as part of any deal. But the administration has not specified a timetable or what the United States is willing to offer in return.
Some nuclear security experts said Trump undermined his goal of reassuring Kim by appearing to confuse Bolton’s meaning about Libya and, in doing so, issuing a veiled threat to Pyongyang.
President Donald Trump contradicted national security adviser John Bolton in remarks about a nuclear deal with North Korea.