WASHINGTON, D.C.: US President Donald Trump sounded a note of caution on Wednesday (Thursday in Manila) about his much-vaunted summit with Kim Jong Un, saying “we’ll see” after Pyongyang threatened to cancel.
Trump said the US government had not received any official word of a change in plans for the June 12 meeting in Singapore.
“We haven’t been notified at all. We’ll have to see,” Trump said in the Oval Office.
“We haven’t seen anything. We haven’t heard anything. We will see what happens. Whatever it is, it is.”
After weeks of warm words and diplomatic backslapping, Pyongyang abruptly threatened to pull out Tuesday, over US demands for “unilateral nuclear abandonment.”
In an angrily worded statement, the North warned “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.”
The statement was attributed to first vice foreign minister Kim Kye Gwan and carried by state media KCNA.
In that case, he added, Pyongyang would have to “reconsider” its participation at next month’s summit in Singapore.
The first vice foreign minister also tore into Trump’s National Security Advisor John Bolton for drawing parallels between North Korea and Libya, calling the comparison “absolutely absurd.”
“We do not hide our feeling of repugnance towards him,” he said of Bolton.
Bolton has pushed the idea of a deal with North Korea like that reached with Libya’s Moamer Kadhafi, who agreed in 2003 to the elimination of his country’s nuclear program and chemical weapons arsenal to gain sanctions relief.
After giving up his atomic program, Kadhafi was killed in 2011 in an uprising backed by NATO bombing.
Experts have not been surprised by the sudden about face, expecting bumps in the road as tough issues to be discussed in the meeting come into sharper focus.
Washington is pressing for North Korea’s complete, verifiable and irreversible denuclearization. But so far, the North has given no public indication of what it is offering, beyond a broad commitment to denuclearization of the “Korean peninsula.”
Pyongyang “made clear on several occasions that precondition for denuclearization is to put an end to anti-DPRK hostile policy and nuclear threats and blackmail of the United States,” the North Korean minister said.
In the past, Pyongyang has demanded the withdrawal of US troops stationed in the South, and an end to Washington’s nuclear umbrella over its ally.
China, North Korea’s sole major ally, called for the summit to go ahead.
“The situation on the peninsula has eased up, which is worth cherishing,” Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Lu Kang told a regular briefing.
Minister Kim also dismissed offers by US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo for US economic aid if the North denuclearizes.