President Trump said Wednesday that he will continue to insist on denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula, despite threats from North Korean officials to cancel a much-anticipated June 12 summit.
Trump said that North Korea has not directly told the White House that it wants to change or cancel the summit, so he has not made any decisions.
“We haven’t seen anything. We haven’t heard anything,” Trump told a small group of reporters in the Oval Office on Wednesday as he welcomed Uzbekistan President Shavkat Mirziyoyev to the White House. “We will see what happens. Whatever it is, it is.”
When asked whether he thinks North Korean leader Kim Jong Un is bluffing, Trump repeated, “We’ll see what happens.”
As reporters were ushered out of the Oval Office, one asked the president whether he will continue to insist on the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula. Trump responded with a simple “Yes.”
The North Korean regime has protested joint U.S.-South Korea military exercises taking place in South Korea, casting doubt on the planned summit with Trump and members of his administration, scheduled for June 12 in Singapore. North Korean officials have said that the United States must stop insisting that the North “unilaterally” abandon its nuclear weapons program and stop talking about a “Libya model” solution to the standoff.
Trump and his top aides, including Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and national security adviser John Bolton, have often said the United States wants the “complete, verifiable, irreversible denuclearization of North Korea” — a high standard that Pyongyang has previously resisted.
In negotiations over the years, North Korea has repeatedly threatened to walk out over disagreements — and has on occasion actually walked out. In that respect, Wednesday’s announcement is not surprising and underscores analysts’ warnings that North Korea will not give up its nuclear weapons easily.
“We are trying to be both optimistic and realistic at the same time,” Bolton said on Fox News Radio’s “Brian Kilmeade Show” on Wednesday morning. “I think that’s where the president is. We are going to do everything we can to come to a successful meeting, but we are not going to back away from the objective of that meeting, which is complete, verifiable and irreversible denuclearization of North Korea.”
Anna Fifield in Seoul contributed to this report.