White House: US still hopeful for DPRK summit

Wednesday, 2018-05-16 20:39:55
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This graphic image shows US President Donald Trump (L) and DPRK leader Kim Jong-un (R). (Source:Yonhap)
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The United States is still hopeful about a planned summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un but President Donald Trump is prepared for a tough negotiation process, White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders said on May 16.

North Korea (the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea – DPRK) threw next month’s summit between Kim and Trump into doubt on May 16, threatening weeks of diplomatic progress by saying it may reconsider if Washington insists it unilaterally gives up its nuclear weapons.

"We're still hopeful that the meeting will take place and we'll continue down that path but at the same time we've been prepared that these could be tough negotiations," Sanders said in an interview with Fox News.

"The president is ready if the meeting takes place. If it doesn't, we'll continue the maximum pressure campaign that's been ongoing."

Sanders said the comments from DPRK were "not something that is out of the ordinary in these types of operations."

"The president's fully prepared and fully ready to carry on in these conversations both leading up to and if the meeting takes place," she said. "He'll be there and he'll be ready."

According to DPRK's official KCNA news agency, Pyongyang's first vice minister of foreign affairs, Kim Kye Gwan, specifically criticized US national security adviser John Bolton, who has called for the DPRK to quickly give up its nuclear arsenal in a deal that mirrors Libya's abandonment of its weapons of mass destruction.

Sanders played down those concerns. "I haven't seen that as part of any discussions so I'm not aware that that's a model that we're using," she told reporters at the White House on May 16.

Meanwhile, the top diplomats of the Republic of Korea (RoK) and the United States held emergency phone talks on May 16 in a show of solidarity against DPRK's newest move ahead of key summit meetings.

Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-wha and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo exchanged views on related issues, including the DPRK's abrupt cancellation of ministerial talks with the RoK that were supposed to take place the same day, Kang's ministry said.

Kang briefed Pompeo on the RoK government's position on the DPRK's move and stressed that Seoul maintains the resolve to fully implement the April 27 inter-Korean summit agreement, named the Panmunjom Declaration.

They agreed that the two sides will "continue close cooperation to achieve the complete denuclearization and the establishment of peace on the Korean Peninsula through the successful hosting of the DPRK-US summit on the basis of the accomplishments in the April 27 South-North summit," the ministry said.

The secretary said the US will continue to make preparations for the summit between President Donald Trump and the DPRK's leader Kim Jong-un, scheduled to be held in Singapore on June 12, "paying heed to" the DPRK's decision to put off the inter-Korean dialogue, according to the ministry.

Pyongyang took issue with the ongoing Max Thunder drills by RoK and the US air forces. It labeled the annual exercise under way in Korea as a rehearsal for invasion and a provocation to run counter to the spirit of the Panmunjom Declaration.

It urged the US to consider the "fate" of the planned Kim-Trump summit.

In a separate statement, Vice Foreign Minister Kim Kye-gwan said his regime will reconsider the plan for the historic summit if the US keep demanding the unilateral nuclear disarmament of the DPRK.

Reuters, Yonhap