Thursday 13 December 2018

Trump blames China for influencing Kim in talks threat

US President Donald Trump. Photo: Reuters.
US President Donald Trump. Photo: Reuters.

Ben Riley-Smith

Donald Trump has blamed China for Kim Jong-un's apparent change of heart over their face-to-face meeting as he attempted to bring North Korea back to the table.

In his fullest response to Pyongyang's threat to cancel, the US president undermined his own national security adviser by saying the "Libya model" was not being used.

Mr Trump also promised Mr Kim "protections" if he agreed to meet in Singapore as originally planned - an olive branch to North Korean leader. The comments were made in the White House as Mr Trump was meeting Jens Stoltenberg, the Nato secretary general.

The US president was due to meet Mr Kim in Singapore on June 12 to discuss denuclearisation but the North Koreans unexpectedly said this week they could pull out of the meeting.

US-South Korean military drills, comments made by John Bolton, Mr Trump's national security adviser, and demands for the regime to "unilaterally" give up its nuclear programme were all cited as reasons.

But Mr Trump pointed the finger at another factor - Mr Kim's second meeting with Xi Jinping, the Chinese president, earlier this month.

Mr Trump said there was a "big difference" in North Korea's position since the meeting and suggested that Mr Xi "could be influencing" Mr Kim.

China has traditionally been North Korea's closest ally and reportedly feared being alienated from talks as Mr Trump pushed ahead with his plan for a face-to-face meeting.

Mr Trump also dismissed Mr Bolton's own suggestion last month that the "Libya model" from 2003 and 2004 would be used in talks with North Korea.

Muammar Gaddafi, the Libyan leader, was convinced to give up his nuclear programme at the time. However, he was later toppled and killed in 2011.

Irish Independent

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