Trump treads caution on N Korea’s threat to cancel summit

PTI

FILE: Washington: File photo of US President Donald Trump. Photo - AP/PTI

FILE: Washington: File photo of US President Donald Trump.
Photo – AP/PTI

United States President Donald Trump has reacted cautiously to North Korea’s threat to cancel a planned summit with Kim Jong-Un next month, saying “we’ll have to see” after Pyongyang publicly voiced its concern over being pushed “into a corner” on nuclear disarmament.

North Korea on Wednesday had threatened to abandon planned talks between Kim and Trump if Washington insists on pushing it “into a corner” on nuclear disarmament.

Trump said the US has not been notified about Pyongyang’s threat to cancel his historic summit with North Korean leader Kim on June 12 in Singapore.

“No decision. We haven’t been notified at all… We’ll have to see,” Trump said, adding, “We haven’t seen anything. We haven’t heard anything. We will see what happens, whatever is”.

Asked if Kim is bluffing, he replied, “We’ll see what happens.” When asked if he will still insist on the denuclearisation of the Korean Peninsula, Trump said, “Yes”.

A statement published by the state-run Korea Central News Agency said North Korea would never accept economic assistance from the US in exchange for unilaterally abandoning its nuclear programme.

Pyongyang’s nuclear weapons programme has seen tensions on the Korean Peninsula reach ratchet up in recent months, prompting fresh rounds of sanctions and fiery rhetoric from Trump and Kim.

At their planned summit in Singapore, the two leaders are expected to discuss ways to improve US-North Korea relations as well as the denuclearisation of the Korean Peninsula.

Meanwhile, White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders said Trump was prepared to walk away from the talks.

“This is something that we fully expected. The President is very used to and ready for tough negotiations, and if they want to meet, we’ll be ready, and if they don’t, that’s OK, too,” she was quoted as saying by CNN.

Reacting to the reports from Pyongyang, the White House earlier said it was “still hopeful” the summit will proceed despite North Korea’s threat to cancel it. The State Department also said it was going ahead with preparations for the summit as planned earlier.

(With inputs from PTI)