North Korea may relook at Trump summit

SEOUL: North Korea threw next month’s summit between Kim Jong Un and US President Donald Trump into doubt on Wednesday, threatening weeks of diplomatic progress by saying it may reconsider if Washington insists it unilaterally gives up its nuclear weapons.
The North’s official KCNA news agency said earlier Pyongyang had called off high-level talks with Seoul, which had been due on Wednesday, in the first sign of trouble after months of warming ties.
Citing first vice minister of foreign affairs Kim Kye Gwan, KCNA later said the fate of the unprecedented US-North Korea summit, as well as bilateral relations, “would be clear” if the United States spoke of a “Libya-style” denuclearisation for the North.
“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 DPRK-US summit,” Kim Kye Gwan said, referring to the North by its official name, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.
The United States was still hopeful about the summit, scheduled for Singapore on June 12, but also prepared for a tough negotiation process, White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders said. “We’re still hopeful that the meeting will take place and we’ll continue down that path, but at the same time we’ve been prepared that these could be tough negotiations,” Sanders said in an interview with Fox News.
“The president is ready if the meeting takes place. If it doesn’t, we’ll continue the maximum pressure campaign that’s been ongoing.”
Vice Minister Kim 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 mirrors Libya’s abandonment of its weapons of mass destruction.
North Korea clashed with Bolton when he worked under the Bush administration, calling him “human scum” and a “bloodsucker”.
“We shed light on the quality of Bolton already in the past, and we do not hide our feeling of repugnance towards him,” Kim said.
The North Korean statement, as well its cancellation of the talks with the South due to US-South Korean military exercises, mark a dramatic reversal in tone from recent months when both sides embraced efforts to negotiate. North Korea had announced it would publicly shut its nuclear test site next week.
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said on Sunday the United States would agree to lift sanctions on North Korea if it agreed to completely dismantle its nuclear weapons programme. — Agencies