Trump says North Korea is 'talking to us like nothing happened' after threatening to pull out of summit

President distances himself from advisers comments on 'Libya model'

Emily Shugerman
New York
Thursday 17 May 2018 20:29 BST
President Donald Trump speaks during a meeting with NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg in the Oval Office
President Donald Trump speaks during a meeting with NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg in the Oval Office (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

US President Donald Trump has downplayed North Korea’s threats to pull out of an upcoming nuclear summit, claiming the North was communicating with his administration “as though nothing happened”.

Mr Trump fielded questions about the summit during a press conference days after North Korean leader Kim Jong-un announced he would suspend the talks over joint US-South Korean military drills.

But Mr Trump claimed nothing had changed with regards to North Korea, adding that "our people" were "literally dealing with them right now".

"North Korea's actually talking to us about times and everything else as though nothing happened," he said. "We have not been told anything. We're just reading stories like you are."

The summit between Mr Trump and Mr Kim would be the first between a sitting US president and North Korean leader. The two leaders had planned to discuss the denuclearisation of the Korean Peninsula – a top foreign policy priority of the US for decades.

Mike Pompeo confident US and North Korea have 'shared understanding of ultimate objectives from summit'

The two countries have been discussing the summit for months, exchanging compliments and even negotiating the release of prisoners. But North Korea backed away from the talks this week, after the US and South Korea launched their annual military drills in the South.

Mr Trump said on Thursday that there would be no change to the military exercises. But he also distanced himself from controversial remarks made by his national security adviser, John Bolton, which angered Mr Kim.

The president said he was not looking to employ the “Libya model” in his dealings with North Korea – something Mr Bolton had suggested in comments days before.

"The Libya model was a much different model. We decimated that country," Mr Trump said.

In North Korea, the president said, Mr Kim "would be there, he would be running his country, his country would be very rich”.

NATO forces helped push Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi from power in 2011, eight years after the leader struck a deal with the US to surrender his nuclear weapons.

Mr Trump said he was willing to offer Mr Kim “protections” if the leader agreed to give up his nuclear weapons. The Libya model, he added, would only be employed if the two countries could not reach an agreement.

"We cannot let that country have nukes. We just can't do it," he said.

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