US President Donald Trump expressed pessimism about whether the summit with North Korea’s leader would take place, even as American officials pressed ahead with plans for a historic meeting on June 12 in Singapore.
South Korean President Moon Jae-in flew to Washington for the day amid growing uncertainty about North Korean leader Kim Jong-un’s goals for the summit after his regime made remarks critical of Trump’s vision of “total denuclearisation.”
Moon and Trump offered few public remarks, but what little they did say suggested the odds of a breakdown are rising.
“There’s a chance, a very substantial chance, it won’t work out,” Trump said during an Oval Office meeting with Moon. “I don’t want to waste a lot of time and I’m sure he doesn’t want to waste a lot of time. So there’s a very substantial chance it won’t work out and that’s OK. That doesn’t mean it won’t work out over a period of time.”
While the pace of diplomacy leading to the planned June summit has been fast, analysts who study Kim’s regime predicted that relations would get increasingly tested in the days and weeks leading up to what would be the first ever meeting between a North Korean leader and a sitting American president.
Kim appears to be going ahead with plans to shut down his northern nuclear test site this week, with foreign reporters en route to North Korea to witness the event.
North Korea threatened to cancel the summit, citing remarks by US National Security Adviser John Bolton who said the regime could follow a “Libya model” of arms control.
Denuclearisation “all in one would be a lot better” than a phased process, Trump said. Moon continued to express optimism during the meeting.
Pyongyang gets ready to destroy its nuclear test site
North Korea is preparing blow up its main nuclear-weapons test site in the next day or two, even as US President Trump raises new doubts about the prospects of a nuclear deal with Kim.
A selection of journalists representing Chinese, Russian, South Korean, UK and US media organisations were traveling to the site in mountainous area of Punggye-ri to witness the event.
While Kim has portrayed the demolition as a
natural step after declaring his nuclear weapons programme “complete,” South Korean and US officials have interpreted as a gesture of good faith ahead of next month’s planned summit with Trump.