Trump Says He'll Know Next Week Whether Kim Summit Will Proceed

(Bloomberg) -- President Donald Trump said it will be clear by next week whether his planned summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un will proceed as planned.

Trump addressed the prospects for the summit scheduled in Singapore June 12 on Wednesday as he was on his way to the presidential helicopter to depart the White House.

“We will know next week about Singapore,” Trump told reporters. “Some day a date will happen. It could very well be June 12th.”

The U.S. and North Korea are at odds over what will constitute denuclearization of the peninsula and how to achieve it. Trump has grown more pessimistic as North Korean officials have made remarks critical of the U.S. president’s vision of “total denuclearization.” Kim’s regime threatened last week to cancel the summit, citing remarks by U.S. National Security Adviser John Bolton that the regime could follow a “Libya model” of arms control.

Trump publicly cast doubt on the planned summit on Tuesday, even as U.S. officials pressed ahead with plans for the meeting.

“There’s a chance, a very substantial chance, it won’t work out,” Trump said during an Oval Office meeting with South Korean President Moon Jae-in “I don’t want to waste a lot of time and I’m sure he doesn’t want to waste a lot of time.”

Pompeo on Denuclearization

American officials have repeatedly said they expect North Korea to accept “complete, verifiable and irreversible denuclearization,” while Pyongyang is seeking a phased process that could include a reduced American military presence in the region.

The North Korean regime was also irritated by Bolton’s suggestion of following Libya’s example. While arms control advocates consider Libyan dictator Muammar Qaddafi’s 2011 decision to give up his weapons of mass destruction in exchange for an easing of sanctions a success, North Korea views his subsequent death at the hands of U.S.-backed rebels as a cautionary tale.

Trump has since publicly disavowed Bolton’s suggestion that the U.S. views the outcome in Libya as a model for North Korea.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo appeared to back away from the Trump administration’s demands that Kim complete denuclearization before economic sanctions are eased, saying instead the U.S. wants North Korea to take “credible steps” toward giving up its nuclear weapons program.

“Our posture will not change until we see credible steps taken toward the complete, verifiable and irreversible denuclearization of the Korean peninsula,” Pompeo said Wednesday in testimony to the House Foreign Affairs Committee. “It’s time to solve this once and for all.”

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