Trump Attempts to Keep Summit with North Korea Alive, Issues Warning to Kim

On Thursday, President Donald Trump stated that despite threats by North Korea to pull out of the upcoming summit, U.S. officials are continuing their preparations for the meeting scheduled to take place next month.

The President also gave Pyongyang reassurances that Kim Jong-un would remain in power if he abandons his nuclear weapons program while warning at the same time that North Korea risks decimation should the North Korean leader refuse to strike a deal with Washington.

“If we make a deal, I think Kim Jong-un is going to be very, very happy,” Trump said, speaking from the Oval Office.

His comments were the first public rebuke of North Korea since the two countries began negotiations for the expected diplomatic summit. In them, Trump blamed China for the latest uncertainty concerning the fate of the meeting. However, he pointed out that North Korean officials have not indicated they were planning to cancel the summit.

President Trump further maintained that North Korea’s harsher tone this week came after Kim met for the second time with Chinese President Xi Jinping, and suggested the Chinese leader could be “influencing” Kim to harden his stance.

“If the meeting happens, it happens. And if it doesn’t, we go on to the next step,” Trump said, according to CNN. “We may have the meeting. We may not have the meeting. If we don’t have it, that will be very interesting. … We’ll see what happens.”

Although the president didn’t say definitively whether the summit will happen next month, he expressed willingness to proceed with it. The only question remaining is whether Kim is also still willing to meet.

“You have to want to do it. With deals … you have to have two parties that want to do it,” Trump said. Kim “absolutely wanted to do it. Perhaps he doesn’t want to do it.”

Trump is also scheduled to meet with South Korean President Moon Jae-in next week, as part of preparations for the Kim summit. For its part, North Korea said it would not communicate with the South until the two sides can resolve differences over joint US-South Korea military drills.

“It will not be easy to sit back with South Korea’s current ‘regime’ unless the serious situation that suspended the high-level inter-Korean talks is resolved,” Ri Son Gwon, North Korea’s chairman of the Committee for the Peaceful Reunification, said in a state media report. “The direction of future North-South relations will depend solely on the actions of the South Korean authorities.”

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