US pon­ders sum­mit de­spite warn­ing

Seoul vows to play ‘me­di­a­tor’ to ease doubts over DPRK talks

China Daily - - WORLD - Xin­hua and Reuters contributed to this story.

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.

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