Washington: The United States and South Korea are labouring to keep the highly anticipated US summit with North Korea on track, even after US President Donald Trump abruptly said "there's a very substantial chance" it won't happen as scheduled.
South Korean President Moon Jae-in reminded Trump yesterdat of the sky-high stakes, saying, "The fate and the future of the Korean Peninsula hinge" on the meeting.
The June 12 summit, planned for Singapore, offers a historic chance for peace on the peninsula – but also the risk of an epic diplomatic failure that would allow the North to revive and advance its nuclear weapons program.
American officials say preparations are still underway. SU Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said yesterday: "We're driving on."
Trump's newfound hesitation appeared to reflect recent setbacks in efforts to bring about reconciliation between the two Koreas, as well as concern whether the self-proclaimed dealmaker can deliver a nuclear accord with the North's Kim Jong-un.
Seated in the Oval Office with Moon Jae-in, Trump said Kim had not met unspecified "conditions" for the summit. However, the President also said he believed Kim was "serious" about negotiations, and Moon expressed "every confidence" in Trump's ability to hold the summit and bring about peace.
"I have no doubt that you will be able to … accomplish a historic feat that no one had been able to achieve in the decades past," Moon said.
Both parties to the talks are invested in holding the meeting, with Kim seeing an opportunity for international legitimacy and Trump the prospect of securing Korean stability – and perhaps a Nobel Peace Prize.
Trump suggested the summit could be delayed rather than cancelled: "It may not work out for June 12, but there is a good chance that we'll have the meeting."
He did not detail the conditions he had laid out said if they aren't met, "we won't have the meeting." Press Secretary Sarah Sanders said Trump was referring to a commitment to seriously discuss denuclearisation.
Skepticism about the North's intentions have mounted in recent weeks after Kim's government pulled out of planned peace talks with the South last week, objecting to long-scheduled joint US-South Korea military exercises. The North also threatened to abandon the planned summit over US insistence on unilateral denuclearisation.
Trump expressed suspicion that the North's recent aggressive barbs were influenced by Kim's unannounced trip to China two weeks ago – his second in as many months. Trump said he'd noticed "a little change" in Kim's attitude after the trip.
"I don't like that," he said.
The pPresident added that he hoped his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping was actually committed to denuclearisation goal, calling him a "world-class poker player.". Trump said he was displeased by China's softening of border enforcement measures against North Korea.
Donald Trump met with South Korean President Moon Jae-in on Wednesday to talk about the upcoming North Korea summit.
He said if an agreement was reached, China, Japan and South Korea would invest large sums to "make North Korea great".
Trump said the long-term status of the peninsula will be up to the North and South, and that the immediate goal for the summit was "two successful Koreas".
He added: "Ultimately, maybe someday in the future [you'll] go back to one Korea".
The two Koreas both seek reunification of the divided Korean peninsula on their own terms but it has always been a distant aspiration because of the incompatibility of their political systems and their mutual suspicion. Any move toward reunification would first likely require a peace settlement to formally end the 1950-53 Korean War, which the two Koreas say they are aiming for.
Fresh questions were raised on Tuesday about North Korea's goals and motives, with a Pentagon report to Congress that says nuclear weapons are central to North Korea's strategic goal of ensuring the perpetual the rule of the Kim family dynasty. The report on North Korea's military capabilities was based on an assessment of developments in 2017 and was provided to Congress in April. It was posted online by an anti-secrecy group.
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