North Korea threatens to rethink Trump-Kim summit if US insists Pyongyang give up nuclear programme

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North Korea throws next month’s summit between Kim Jong Un and US President Donald Trump into doubt by threatening to pull out of the meeting if Washington continues to push it for denuclearisation.
US President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un. The fate of the US-North Korea summit as well as bilateral relations “would be clear” if Washington speaks of a Libya-style denuclearisation for the North. PHOTO: AFP

SEOUL (AFP, REUTERS) - North Korea threatened on Wednesday (May 16) to cancel the forthcoming summit between leader Kim Jong Un and President Donald Trump in Singapore if Washington seeks to push Pyongyang into giving up its nuclear arsenal.

If the Trump administration "corners us and unilaterally demands we give up nuclear weapons we will no longer have an interest in talks and will have to reconsider whether we will accept the upcoming DPRK-US summit", first vice-foreign minister Kim Kye Gwan said in a statement carried by the official KCNA news agency.

Washington is pressing for Pyongyang's complete, verifiable and irreversible denuclearisation (CVID), but the Kim regime prefers a phased approach, with sanctions lifted early.

But so far the North has not given any public indication of what concessions it is offering.

The KCNA statement, which came after Pyongyang cancelled high-level inter-Korea talks at the last minute, added US President Donald Trump would remain as a "failed president" if he follows in the steps of his predecessors.

At a summit with the South's President Moon Jae In last month, Kim Jong Un reaffirmed his commitment to the denuclearisation of the Korean peninsula. But the phrase is a diplomatic euphemism open to interpretation on both sides.

"We already expressed our willingness for a denuclearised Korean peninsula and repeatedly declared that the US must end its hostile DPRK policy and nuclear threats as preconditions," the minister Kim said.

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North Korea on Wednesday threw into question an unprecedented summit between its leader Kim Jong Un and US President Donald Trump scheduled for next month.

In the past, Pyongyang has demanded the withdrawal of the US troops stationed in the South to protect it from its neighbour, and an end to Washington's nuclear umbrella over its security ally.

Kim Kye Gwan also blasted US National Security Adviser John Bolton, who has spoken of a "Libyan model" for North Korean denuclearisation.

It was a "highly sinister attempt to enforce the fate of Libya and Iraq upon the DPRK", Kim said.

"I cannot suppress anger over this US move and it is doubtful whether the US really wants to improve ties with the DPRK through dialogue and negotiation."

Kim's latest move could be aimed at testing Trump's willingness to make concessions ahead of the summit, which is due to be preceded by a visit to Washington next week by South Korean President Moon Jae In.

The North has long said it needs nuclear weapons to protect itself against a US invasion. Analysts told The Straits Times apart from an easing of international sanctions, North Korea is seeking security guarantee and economic aid to develop its impoverished economy.

After giving up his atomic programme, Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi was killed in an uprising backed by Nato bombing.

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