Monday 19 November 2018

North Korea threatens to pull out of US summit over military moves

A US Air Force U-2 spy plane lands as South Korea and the United States conduct the ‘Max Thunder’ joint military exercise in South Korea yesterday. Photo: AP
A US Air Force U-2 spy plane lands as South Korea and the United States conduct the ‘Max Thunder’ joint military exercise in South Korea yesterday. Photo: AP

Ben Riley-Smith Washington

Donald Trump yesterday conceded he did not know if his meeting with Kim Jong-un would go ahead after North Korean officials openly criticised his administration's demands.

The US president repeatedly said "we'll see" when asked to confirm if the June 12 summit in Singapore announced last week would go ahead.

US President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un. Photo: Getty Images
US President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un. Photo: Getty Images

The White House insisted that hard-hitting economic sanctions on the country would remain in place unless Kim attended the meeting.

And a senior official played down claims they had been blindsided by North Korea's threat to not attend the meeting, saying they "fully expected" such developments.

The response came after Kim Kye-gwan, North Korea's deputy foreign minister, singled out John Bolton, Mr Trump's new hard-line national security adviser, for criticism.

Mr Bolton said last month the "Libya model" from 2003-2004, when Muammar Gaddafi agreed to give up his nuclear weapons programme, would be used for North Korean talks.

However, Gaddafi ended up being killed in the streets by a mob in 2011 after his government was overthrown.

Kim Kye-gwan said of Mr Bolton that "we do not hide our feelings of repugnance towards him", KCNA, the North Korean news agency, reported.

Mr Kim claimed the remarks cast doubt on America's sincerity, underlining that his country was not Libya, which met a "miserable fate".

North Korea analysts have cautioned that the brutal death of Gaddafi may be foremost on Kim Jong-un's mind ahead of talks on denuclearisation.

Several also pointed to Mr Bolton's fractious history with North Korea. In 2003, North Korea refused to participate in multi-lateral talks if Mr Bolton was present after he labelled then leader Kim Jong-il a "tyrannical dictator". Mr Kim's remarks followed an unexpected announcement by KCNA that talks with South Korea had been postponed hours before they were due to start because of joint military drills between the US and South Korea.

America was also warned "careful deliberations" would need to take place over whether to go ahead with Mr Trump's meeting with Kim.

Asked yesterday if his meeting with Kim would go ahead, Mr Trump said: "We'll have to see, we'll have to see. No decision. We haven't been notified at all. We'll have to see." Mr Trump reportedly said "yes" when asked if he would still insist on the denuclearisation of the Korean peninsula.

Mr Trump was also facing domestic pressure yesterday as his financial ethics disclosures for 2018 revealed the payment he made to porn star Stormy Daniels. His filing states he repaid Michael Cohen, his personal lawyer, for an expense between $100,001 and $250,000, which Ms Daniels claims was in exchange for keeping quiet about her relationship with Mr Trump, a liaison he denies.

Irish Independent

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