Trump not sure on NoKor sum­mit

The Philippine Star - - WORLD -

WASH­ING­TON (Reuters) — US Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump ac­knowl­edged on Wed­nes­day it was un­clear if his sum­mit with North Korea would go ahead af­ter Py­ongyang threat­ened to pull out of the un­prece­dented meet­ing, a move that could deny him a po­ten­tially ma­jor foreign pol­icy achieve­ment.

North Korea threw into doubt the June 12 sum­mit be­tween its leader Kim Jongun and Trump on Wed­nes­day, say­ing it might not at­tend if Wash­ing­ton con­tin­ues to de­mand it uni­lat­er­ally aban­don its nu­clear arse­nal. North Korea also called off talks with South Korea sched­uled for Wed­nes­day, blam­ing US-South Korean mil­i­tary ex­er­cises.

“We’ll have to see,” Trump told re­porters in the Oval Of­fice when asked if the sum­mit was still on, though he in­sisted he would not back down from his de­mand for North Korea’s de­nu­cle­ariza­tion.

“No de­ci­sion, we haven’t been no­ti­fied at all ... We haven’t seen any­thing, we haven’t heard any­thing,” he said.

Trump’s muted re­sponse was in marked con­trast to just a few days ago when he ex­ulted over North Korea’s re­lease of three Amer­i­cans, wel­com­ing them home with praise for Kim and an ex­pres­sion of high hopes that the sum­mit would pro­duce “some­thing very mean­ing­ful.”

Trump’s aides — who, ac­cord­ing to one US of­fi­cial, were caught off guard by North Korea’s warn­ing — were work­ing on Wed­nes­day to de­ter­mine whether it was a ne­go­ti­at­ing ploy by Py­ongyang or an at­tempt to scut­tle the sum­mit.

Can­cel­la­tion of the sum­mit, the first be­tween US and North Korean lead­ers, would deal a ma­jor blow to what would be the big­gest diplo­matic achieve­ment of Trump’s pres­i­dency.

Trump has raised ex­pec­ta­tions for the sum­mit even as many an­a­lysts have been skep­ti­cal about the chances of bridg­ing the gap be­cause of ques­tions about North Korea’s will­ing­ness to give up a nu­clear arse­nal that it says can hit the United States.

The White House said it was still hope­ful the sum­mit would take place, but Trump was pre­pared for a tough ne­go­ti­a­tion.

A pedes­trian walks past a mu­ral de­pict­ing North Korean leader Kim Jong-un in Los Angeles, Cal­i­for­nia on Mon­day.

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