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North Korea casts doubt on Kim-Trump summit, rejects total disarmament

North Korea upset months of thawing relations on Wednesday by threatening to cancel the June summit with President Trump if the U.S. continues to push Pyongyang to abandon its nuclear weapons. Judy Woodruff reports on the response from the White House.

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  • Judy Woodruff:

    What seemed like a pretty good bet a week ago, a meeting between North Korea’s leader, Kim Jong-un, and President Trump set for June 12 in Singapore, is now up in the air.

    A top North Korean official released a statement late yesterday saying, if the United States insists on complete nuclear disarmament, the North Koreans are not interested in talking with Mr. Trump.

  • President Donald Trump:

    We haven’t seen anything. We haven’t heard anything. We will see what happens.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    President Trump responded to North Korean threats to cancel the June 12 summit with leader Kim Jong-un if the U.S. continued to push Pyongyang to abandon its nuclear weapons.

  • Question:

    Will you still insist on denuclearization in the Korean Peninsula?

  • President Donald Trump:

    yes.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    In the pre-dawn hours, Pyongyang upset months of thawing relations. First, it abruptly suspended high-level talks with Seoul, in protest of a joint U.S.-South Korea military exercise called Max Thunder.

  • Man (through translator):

    The South Korean authorities lost all senses, should be held wholly accountable for the scuttled North-South high-level talks and

  • Judy Woodruff:

    Then a warning for the U.S. about another consequence of that annual drill-

  • Man (through translator):

    The United States will also have to undertake careful deliberations about the fate of the planned North Korea-U.S. summit.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    Hours later, state media carried a statement from North Korea’s first vice foreign minister, Kim Kye Gwan, that rejected any notion of total disarmament.

    He said — quote — “If the U.S. is trying to drive us into a corner to force our unilateral nuclear abandonment, we will no longer be interested in such dialogue.”

    Before Mr. Trump spoke, Press Secretary Sarah Sanders said the White House is still hopeful the meeting will take place.

  • Sarah Sanders:

    Look, this is something that we fully expected. The president is very used to and ready for tough negotiations. And if they want to meet, we will be ready. And if they don’t, that’s OK, too. And we will continue with a campaign of maximum pressure if that is the case.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    The North Korean statement also criticized Mr. Trump’s national security adviser, John Bolton. Last month, Bolton invoked Libya’s 2003 disarmament as a model for North Korea, and pushed for irreversible dismantlement before the lifting of sanctions.

  • John Bolton:

    We have very much in mind the Libya model from 2003-2004.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    Then-Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi was overthrown and killed in 2011 by rebels with U.S. backing. Kim said it was an awfully sinister move to demand Pyongyang do the same.

    At the White House, Sanders seemed to back away from Bolton’s comment.

  • Sarah Sanders:

    I am not aware that that’s a model that we are using. Look, again, this is the President Trump model.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    This follows, in the span of a few weeks, President Trump shifting from outright optimism.

  • President Donald Trump:

    I think that we’re going to have a success.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    To occasional caution.

  • President Donald Trump:

    If it’s not going to be fair and reasonable and good, I will — unlike past administrations, I will leave the table.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    For their part, China’s President Xi Jinping met with North Korea’s ruling Workers’ Party officials and urged Pyongyang not to cancel next month’s summit.

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