Donald Trump uncertain if Kim Jong-un meeting will happen as US warns sanctions will remain without summit
Donald Trump has conceded he does not know if his meeting with Kim Jong-un will go ahead after North Korean officials openly criticsed his administration’s demands. The US president repeatedly said “we’ll see” when asked to confirm if the June 12 summit in Singapore announced last week will still happen. The White House insisted that hard-hitting economic sanctions would remain on the country unless Kim attended the meeting. And a senior official played down claims they had been blindsided by North Korea’s threat to not attend the meeting, saying they “fully expected” such developments . The response came after Kim Kye-gwan, North Korea's deputy foreign minister, singled out John Bolton, Mr Trump’s new hardline national security adviser, for criticism. Mr Bolton said last month that the “Libya model” from 2003 and 2004, when Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi agreed to give up his nuclear weapons programme, would be used for North Korean talks. However Gaddafi ended up being beaten and killed in the streets by a mob in 2011 after his government was thrown from office. Kim Kye-gwan, North Korea's deputy foreign minister, said of Mr Bolton that “we do not hide our feelings of repugnance towards him” in a statement issued by the North Korean Central News Agency. Mr Kim claimed the remarks cast doubt on America's sincerity, underlining that his country was not Libya, which met a "miserable fate." He added: "This is not an expression of intention to address the issue through dialogue. It is essentially a manifestation of awfully sinister moves to impose on our dignified state the destiny of Libya or Iraq which had [sic] been collapsed due to yielding the whole of their countries to big powers." North Korea analysts have cautioned that the undignified, brutal death of Gaddafi may be foremost on Kim Jong-un's mind ahead of talks on denuclearisation. Several also pointed to Mr Bolton's fractious history with North Korea when he was appointed by Mr Trump in March. In 2003, North Korea refused to participate in multilateral talks if Mr Bolton was present after he labelled then leader Kim Jong-il a “tyrannical dictator”, a memory which the regime invoked on Wednesday. His remarks followed an unexpected announcement by KCNA on Tuesday that planned talks with South Korea had been postponed just hours before they were due to start because of the joint military drills. America was also warned that “careful deliberations” would need to take place over whether to go ahead with Mr Trump’s planned meeting with Kim. Asked if his meeting with Kim will go ahead, Mr Trump said: “We’ll have to see, we’ll have to see. No decision. We haven't been notified at all. We'll have to see.” North Korea has voiced frustration at US demands that the regime “unilaterally” gives up its nuclear programme. Senior Trump administration figures have previously said sanctions would only be lifted after Kim gives up his nuclear arsenal. Mr Trump reportedly said “yes” on Wednesday when asked if he will still insist on the denuclearisation of the Korean Peninsula. Sarah Sanders, the White House press secretary, said of North Korea’s threat to pull the meeting: "This is something that we fully expected. The president is very use and ready for tough negotiations.” “If they want to meet we’ll be ready and if they don’t that’s okay too. We’ll continue with the campaign of maximum pressure if that’s the case.”
Kim's death was announced Monday by state television from the North Korean capital, Pyongyang.