North America

Trump says 'we'll see' as North Korea threatens to cancel summit


US President Donald Trump says he'll insist on denuclearisation even as North Korea implies it will pull the plug on a planned summit on June 12 over the issue.

US President Donald Trump says Washington would insist that North Korea give up its nuclear weapons despite Pyongyang's threat to pull out of a planned summit.

North Korea threw the June 12 summit into doubt on Wednesday, saying it might not attend if Washington continues to demand that it unilaterally abandon its nuclear weapons. North Korea also called off high-level talks with South Korea scheduled for Wednesday, blaming US-South Korean military exercises.

"We'll have to see," Trump told reporters on Wednesday in the Oval Office when asked if the summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un was still on.

"No decision, we haven't been notified at all.... We haven't seen anything, we haven't heard anything," he added, while saying that he would continue to push for the denuclearisation of the Korean Peninsula.

Cancellation of the summit, the first meeting between a serving US president and a North Korean leader, would deal a major blow to what would be the biggest diplomatic achievement of Trump's presidency.

Trump has raised expectations for success even as many analysts have been sceptical 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 US.

Combination image of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un and US President Donald Trump
North Korean leader Kim Jong-un and US President Donald Trump

Still hopeful

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

"The president is ready if the meeting takes place," White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders told Fox News. "If it doesn't, we'll continue the maximum pressure campaign that's been ongoing."

Sanders said the North Korean comments were "not something that is out of the ordinary in these types of operations".

North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un and South Korean President Moon Jae-In join hands after signing a document at the Joint Security Area on the DMZ.
The Korean peninsula appeared on the path to denuclearisation after a historic meeting between the North and South last month.
Korea Summit Press Pool

North Korea's first vice minister of foreign affairs, Kim Kye Gwan, on Wednesday cast doubt on whether the planned meeting between leader Kim and Trump, which is set for Singapore, would be held.

"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 and cannot but reconsider our proceeding to the ... summit," he said.

He specifically criticised US National Security Adviser John Bolton, who has called for North Korea to quickly give up its nuclear arsenal in a deal that would mirror Libya's abandonment of its program for weapons of mass destruction.

Sanders appeared reluctant to endorse the Libya model that the outspoken and hawkish Bolton has touted, most recently on US television on Sunday.

She said the model that would be followed in dealing with North Korea was "the President Trump model".

"He's going to run this the way he sees fit. We're 100 per cent confident ... he's the best negotiator."

A US official said the North Korean statements had taken the White House off guard after North Korean leader Kim's diplomatic outreach to the US and South Korea.

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