Trump says Kim summit could be delayed
United States President Donald Trump has warned that his landmark summit with Kim Jong Un may be delayed but insisted the North Korean leader is “serious” about denuclearization.
Hosting South Korean President Moon Jae-in at the White House, Trump did little to quell speculation about the wavering prospects of a historic first summit between the US and North Korean leaders.
“It may not work out for June 12,” Trump said of the Singapore meeting, adding in a now familiar non-committal riff: “if it does not happen, maybe it will happen later.”
“There are certain conditions we want to happen. I think we’ll get those conditions. And if we don’t, we won’t have the meeting,” he further said.
Politically, Trump has invested heavily in the success of the meeting, so most US officials, as well as outside observers, privately expect it will go ahead.
But as the date draws near, Trump’s divergence from his top aides, the differences between the two sides and the astronomically high stakes are coming into sharp relief.
Success could lead to peace on the Korean peninsula, and end the threat of a nuclear conflagration. Failure could all but destroy hopes of a peaceful solution to the crisis.
“You never know about deals,” Trump said. “I’ve made a lot of deals. You never really know.”
North Korea’s willingness to denuclearize – the very basis for the talks – was recently plunged into doubt when the government denounced US demands for “unilateral nuclear abandonment.”
Pyongyang also canceled at the last minute a high-level meeting with South Korea in protest over joint military drills between Seoul and Washington.
Despite the North’s move, Trump said he believes Kim is willing to give up nukes.
“I do think he is serious. I think he is absolutely very serious,” the US president said.
He suggested that the North Korean leader’s apparent about-face might have been at the behest of Chinese President Xi Jinping.
“There was a difference when Kim Jong Un left China the second time,” Trump said. “There was a different attitude after that meeting and I was a little surprised.”
“And I think things changed after that meeting so I can’t say that I am happy about it,” he added.
Then Trump again raised the prospect of a windfall for Kim if he mothballs weapons programs.
The North Korean leader “will be extremely happy” if the deal works out, Trump said. “He will be very happy.” /kga
Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.