Trump ready for summit with Kim but will exert ‘maximum pressure’ if N Korea backs out

North Korea, in an angrily-worded statement, had warned that it may back out of the Trump-Kim summit if the US pressures it to give up its nuclear arsenal.

world Updated: May 16, 2018 21:01 IST
Yashwant Raj
Yashwant Raj
Hindustan Times, Washington
Donald Trump,Kim Jong Un,US
Combination of pictures of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and US President Donald Trump.(AFP File)

The US on Wednesday said it was not surprised by North Korea’s new conditions for talks but reiterated that President Donald Trump is ready to meet Kim Jong Un for their scheduled summit on June 12.

“The president is ready if the meeting takes place. And if it doesn’t, we will continue the maximum pressure campaign that’s been ongoing,” White House press secretary Sarah Sanders said, referring to the sanctions that the US believes forced North Korea to call for talks.

The White House also sought to address a concern raised by the North Koreans with regards to the Libyan model of denuclearisation as has been indicated by national security adviser John Bolton. When asked about the Libyan model, she said: “I haven’t seen that as part of any discussions so I’m not aware that that’s a model that we’re using.”

In 2003, Libya’s Muammar Gaddafi had agreed to discard his country’s nuclear weapons programme to gain relief from sanctions. Eight years later, in 201, his government was toppled during the Arab Spring movement, which was supported by Nato bombing.

North Korea, in an angrily-worded statement, had warned that it may back out of the high-level summit if the US pressures it to give up its nuclear arsenal, specifically targeting Bolton. An earlier report by the country’s official news agency had criticised ongoing US-South Korea military exercises as “provocative”.

But the White House said the Trump administration “fully expected” these demands from North Korea.

However, the timing of the salvo from Pyongyang seemed to catch the US offguard. State department spokesperson Heather Nauert was barely able to conceal her surprise, given that Kim had “previously said he understands the need and the utility of the United States and the Republic of Korea (South Korea) continuing in its joint exercises”.

Experts said the demands were standard operating procedure for Pyongyang. “The recent demands by North Korea in advance of the summit with the United States are unsurprising,” said Anish Goel, an Asia expert with think tank New America.

“Kim Jong Un will want significant concessions in exchange for anything nuclear-related. And it looks like the North Koreans have started expressing those demands ahead of time. In addition, this fits a pattern for North Korea. They have historically made unreasonable demands ahead of summit talks and then threatened to walk away if they don’t get what they want,” he said.

First Published: May 16, 2018 21:01 IST