President Trump told reporters Thursday the United States is dealing with North Korea “as though nothing happened” after the totalitarian nation threatened to cancel next month’s planned summit if the U.S. raises the dilemma of denuclearization.
“They are dealing with us, we’re dealing with them, they’re working out times and meeting locations and everything,” Trump said during an Oval Office meeting with NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg. “If it doesn’t occur, that is fine, and if it does take place, I think some tremendous things can occur.”
North Korea has argued that it requires its atomic weapons to preserve its security, and has expressed concerns about giving up its atomic program.
National Security Adviser John Bolton explicitly mentioned “the Libya model of 2003-2004” as a foundation for the North Korea talks every month, which drew personal rebuke in the North Korean government Wednesday.
Trying to address the North Korean concerns, the president said if Kim were to agree to denuclearize, “he’ll get protections which would be very strong.”
But Trump warned that failure to create a deal could have grave implications for Kim. Mentioning what occurred in Libya, Trump said, “That model would take place if we do not make a bargain.”
“The Libyan model isn’t the model we have in any way. In Libya we found that country” Trump added. “There was no price to keep Qaddafi.”
Trump said he’s “prepared to perform much” to give security guarantees to Kim. “The best thing he can do is make a deal.”
In addition to threatening to pull from this meeting together with Trump, the North abruptly canceled a planned meeting with South Korean officials over joint U.S.-South Korean military exercises.
Pentagon spokeswoman Dana White said Thursday the program of military exercises hasn’t changed. She added the annual exercises are long-planned, defensive in nature and meant to guarantee the openness of U.S. and South Korean forces.
Exercise Max Thunder began Monday and finishes May 25. It includes aircraft from across the U.S. military services. Last year’s exercise included approximately 1,200 U.S. personnel and approximately 640 South Koreans. This year’s drill is comparable.
Trump also said he won’t discuss U.S. troop levels in South Korea during his meeting with Kim.