US holds line on nukes
Trump not sure whether North Korea will go ahead with summit
President Donald Trump says the US would insist that North Korea give up its nuclear weapons despite Pyongyang’s threat to pull out of a planned summit.
North Korea threw the June 12 summit into doubt on Wednesday, saying it might not attend if Washington continues to demand it unilaterally abandon its nuclear weapons.
North Korea also called off high-level talks with South Korea scheduled for Wednesday, blaming US-South Korean military exercises.
“We’ll have to see,” Mr Trump said when asked if the summit with Kim Jong-un was still on.
“No decision, we haven’t been notified at all ... We haven’t seen anything, we haven’t heard anything,” he added, while saying that he would continue to push for the denuclearisation of the Korean peninsula.
Cancellation of the summit, the first meeting between a serving US president and a North Korean leader, would deal a major blow to what would be the biggest diplomatic achievement of Mr Trump’s presidency.
Mr Trump has raised expectations for success even as many analysts have been sceptical about the chances of bridging the gap because of questions about North Korea’s willingness to give up its nuclear arsenal.
The White House said earlier it was still hopeful the summit would take place, but Mr Trump (pictured) was prepared for a tough negotiation.
“The President is ready if the meeting takes place,” White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders told Fox News. “If it doesn’t, we’ll continue the maximum pressure campaign that’s been ongoing.” Sanders said the North Korean comments were “not something that is out of the ordinary in these types of operations”.
North Korea’s first vice minister of foreign affairs, Kim Kye Gwan, on Wednesday cast doubt on whether the planned meeting between Mr Kim and Mr Trump, which is set for Singapore, would be held.
“If the US is trying to drive us into a corner to force our unilateral nuclear abandonment, we will no longer be interested in such dialogue and cannot but reconsider our proceeding to the ... summit,” he said.
He specifically criticised US National Security Adviser John Bolton, who has called for North Korea to quickly give up its nuclear arsenal in a deal that would mirror Libya’s abandonment of its program for weapons of mass destruction. Ms Sanders appeared reluctant to endorse the Libya model that the outspoken Mr Bolton has touted, most recently on Sunday. She said the model that would be followed on Korea was “the President Trump model”.