US ponders summit despite warning
Seoul vows to play ‘mediator’ to ease doubts over DPRK talks
US President Donald Trump said on Wednesday it was unclear whether his upcoming meeting with Kim Jong-un, top leader of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, would occur as planned after Pyongyang’s fresh warning to pull out of the talks.
“We’ll have to see,” Trump told reporters at the White House when asked if his June 12 meeting with Kim will take place as scheduled.
A senior DPRK official said earlier in the day that his country may reconsider the meeting in Singapore because of provocative remarks made by US officials.
“No decision. We haven’t been notified at all,” said Trump before his meeting with visiting Uzbek President Shavkat Mirziyoyev.
“We haven’t seen anything. We haven’t heard anything. We will see what happens. Whatever it is, it is,” he said.
Trump also acknowledged that he would continue to insist on the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.
The DPRK’s First Vice-Foreign Minister Kim Kye-gwan said on Wednesday that Pyongyang may have second thoughts about the meeting if the United States “only wants to press the DPRK to abandon its nuclear arsenal”.
Noting that White House national security adviser John Bolton had urged the DPRK to abandon its nuclear arsenal first in order to receive benefits on trade, a similar stance previously taken with Libya, Kim said in a statement it was “not about solving problems through dialogue, but is intended to replay the tragedy of Libya on the DPRK”.
Kim also stressed in the statement that “an end of hostile policies, nuclear threats and intimidation from the United States against the DPRK are preconditions for denuclearization”.
But White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders on Wednesday expressed a degree of optimism about the Trump-Kim talks.
“We’re still hopeful that the meeting will take place and we’ll continue down that path,” Sanders told Fox News in an interview.
“But at the same time we’ve been prepared that these could be tough negotiations,” the spokeswoman added.
Kim’s statement was issued after a joint military drill between the US and the Republic of Korea, dubbed “2018 Max Thunder”, kicked off throughout the ROK on May 11.
The war games also triggered Pyongyang’s infinite suspension of its scheduled high-level talks with Seoul.
Japan’s Asahi newspaper on Thursday reported that the US has demanded the DPRK ship some nuclear warheads, an intercontinental ballistic missile and other nuclear material overseas within six months.
The newspaper, citing several sources, said US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo appeared to have told the DPRK leader when they met this month that Pyongyang might be removed from a list of state sponsors of terrorism if it removes those nuclear items.
Meanwhile, ROK’s presidential Blue House said it would seek to bridge the gap between the Washington and Pyongyang.
An official said the government or President Moon Jaein intends to more actively perform “the role of a mediator” between the three countries.
Trump will host Moon at a summit at the White House on May 22, and the two are expected to discuss the upcoming US-DPRK summit.