President Donald Trump strove to preserve an upcoming summit with North Korea Thursday, assuring leader Kim Jong Un that he would retain power if he relinquished North Korea’s nuclear weapons and would not face attempts at regime change.
Speaking with reporters in the Oval Office during a meeting with NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, Trump undercut a more hawkish line taken by his national security advisor, pledging that Kim “will get protections that will be very strong” should the meeting go ahead, Reuters reports.
“He’d be in his country and running his country. His country would be very rich,” Trump said.
North Korea threatened to cancel the landmark summit, which is slated for June 12 in Singapore, criticizing it as a “one-sided” affair intended to pressure Pyongyang to hand over its nuclear weapons. In comments to state media, North Korea’s first vice foreign minister also criticized Trump’s new National Security Advisor, John Bolton, who had advocated for a “Libyan model” of nuclear disarmament in exchange for sanctions relief.
North Korea has pointed to the NATO-backed revolution in Libya and the violent death of its former leader Muammar Gadhafi as reasons to retain its nuclear capabilities.
“The Libyan model isn’t a model that we have (in mind) at all when we’re thinking of North Korea,” Trump said Thursday, according to Agence-France Presse. But he warned that a Libya-like situation would “most likely” occur should the summit fall through.