Trump: U.S. hasn’t been no­ti­fied about threat to can­cel sum­mit

The Mercury (Pottstown, PA) - - NEWS - By Zeke Miller and Catherine Lucey

WASHINGTON » Amid fresh un­cer­tainty over his planned sum­mit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump said Wed­nes­day that he is com­mit­ted to press­ing for the coun­try to aban­don its nu­clear pro­gram as part of any meet­ing.

North Korea threat­ened ear­lier in the day to scrap the his­toric sum­mit be­tween Trump and Kim, say­ing it has no in­ter­est in a “one-sided” af­fair meant to pres­sure the North to aban­don its nu­clear weapons. But Trump ap­peared to shrug off the warn­ing say­ing the U.S. hadn’t been no­ti­fied.

“We haven’t seen any­thing, we haven’t heard any­thing,” Trump said as he wel­comed the pres­i­dent of Uzbek­istan to the White House. “We will see what hap­pens.”

The warn­ing from North Korea’s first vice for­eign min­is­ter came af­ter the coun­try abruptly can­celed a high-level meet­ing with South Korea to protest U.S.South Korean mil­i­tary ex­er­cises that the North has long claimed are an in­va­sion re­hearsal.

Be­hind the scenes, White House aides tried to soothe South Korean frus­tra­tions over the can­celed meet­ing with the North as they con­tinue to plan for the sum­mit, set for June 12 in Sin­ga­pore, as if noth­ing had changed. U.S. of­fi­cials com­pared the threat to Trump’s own warn­ing that he might walk away from the sum­mit if he de­ter­mines Kim is not se­ri­ous about aban­don­ing his nu­clear pro­gram.

The di­rec­tion from the Oval Of­fice to White House aides and other U.S. na­tional se­cu­rity agen­cies Wed­nes­day was to down­play the North Korean threats and not “take the bait” by over­re­act­ing to the provo­ca­tion, said a se­nior U.S. of­fi­cial. The of­fi­cial wasn’t au­tho­rized to dis­cuss in­ter­nal con­ver­sa­tion pub­licly and re­quested anonymity.

Na­tional Se­cu­rity Ad­viser John Bolton told Fox News Ra­dio Wed­nes­day that “we are try­ing to be both op­ti­mistic and re­al­is­tic at the same time.”

Bolton, who was called out by name by the North for say­ing that the U.S. is seek­ing an out­come sim­i­lar to Libya’s uni­lat­eral nu­clear dis­ar­ma­ment, said the per­sonal at­tack raised the ques­tion of “whether this re­ally is a sign that that they’re not tak­ing our ob­jec­tive of de­nu­cle­ariza­tion se­ri­ously.”

North Korean first vice for­eign min­is­ter Kim Kye Gwan said in a state­ment car­ried by state me­dia that “we are no longer in­ter­ested in a ne­go­ti­a­tion that will be all about driv­ing us into a cor­ner and mak­ing a one-sided de­mand for us to give up our nukes and this would force us to re­con­sider whether we would ac­cept the North Korea-U.S. sum­mit meet­ing.”

In its com­men­taries pub­lished through the staterun news agency, North Korea steered clear of crit­i­ciz­ing Trump him­self and Sec­re­tary of State Mike Pom­peo, who last week met with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un for the sec­ond time in lit­tle more than one month and brought home three Amer­i­can pris­on­ers. That sug­gested it still wants the sum­mit to go ahead.

But it also took the op­por­tu­nity to air its own ne­go­ti­at­ing po­si­tion and take aim at Bolton, who has sug­gested that ne­go­ti­a­tions in 2004 that led to the ship­ping of nu­clear com­po­nents to the U.S. from Libya un­der Moam­mar Gad­hafi would be a good model for North Korea as well — although Gad­hafi was de­posed seven years later fol­low­ing a NATO-led mil­i­tary cam­paign. The North on Wed­nes­day de­scribed that pro­posal as a “sin­is­ter move” to bring about its own col­lapse.

North Korea may have also been re­spond­ing to aims for the sum­mit aired by Bolton and Pom­peo in Sun­day morn­ing talk shows last week­end.

Bolton told ABC that de­nu­cle­ariza­tion means get­ting rid of all the North’s nu­clear weapons, dis­man­tling them and tak­ing them to Oakridge, Ten­nessee, where the U.S. de­vel­oped its atomic bomb dur­ing World War II and re­tains a nu­clear and high­tech­nol­ogy re­search lab­o­ra­tory. Bolton added that North Korea would have to get rid of its ura­nium en­rich­ment and plu­to­nium re­pro­cess­ing fa­cil­i­ties, re­veal their weapons sites and al­low open in­spec­tions.

The tough­est of North Korea’s state­ments was is­sued in the name of Kim Kye Gwan, who was a lead­ing ne­go­tia­tor of an aid-fordis­ar­ma­ment deal that col­lapsed un­der the G. W. Bush ad­min­is­tra­tion at a time when Bolton was serv­ing as un­der­sec­re­tary of state for arms con­trol and North Korea was sus­pected of se­cretly seek­ing to en­rich ura­nium.

The State De­part­ment em­pha­sized that North Korea’s leader had pre­vi­ously in­di­cated he un­der­stood the need and pur­pose of the U.S. con­tin­u­ing its long-planned ex­er­cises with South Korea. State De­part­ment spokes­woman Heather Nauert said the U.S. had not heard any­thing di­rectly from North or South Korea that would change that.

“We will con­tinue to go ahead and plan the meet­ing be­tween Pres­i­dent Trump and Kim Jong Un,” Nauert said.

Press sec­re­tary Sarah Huck­abee Sanders said ear­lier Wed­nes­day that prepa­ra­tions for the sum­mit were on­go­ing de­spite the can­cel­la­tion threat and that Trump is hope­ful the meet­ing will still take place.

“If it doesn’t, we’ll con­tinue the max­i­mum pres­sure cam­paign that’s been on­go­ing,” she told Fox & Friends.

Ore­gon Demo­cratic Sen. Ron Wy­den said he is con­cerned that talks are “re­ally be­ing over­sim­pli­fied” by the White House.

“This is not a like condo deal where two peo­ple sit down and hash out a num-

EVAN VUCCI — THE AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump lis­tens dur­ing a meet­ing with Uzbek Pres­i­dent Shavkat Mirziy­oyev in the Oval Of­fice of the White House, Wed­nes­day in Washington.

SU­SAN WALSH — THE AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump greets Uzbek Pres­i­dent Shavkat Mirziy­oyev out­side the West Wing of the White House in Washington, Wed­nes­day.

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