The White House remains optimistic even as North Korea threatens to hold onto its nuclear arsenal and scrap the president’s summit with the North Korean leader next month.
“We’re ready to meet. If it happens, that’s great. If it doesn’t, we’ll see what happens,” White House press secretary Sarah Sanders explained on “Fox & Friends” Wednesday. “We’re still hopeful the meeting will take place … If it doesn’t, we will continue the maximum pressure campaign that’s been ongoing.”
— Fox News (@FoxNews) May 16, 2018
President Donald Trump, who Sanders described as “the best negotiator at the table,” is expected to meet with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un in Singapore on June 12, but North Korea is now calling the unprecedented summit into question.
Hours after Pyongyang decided to indefinitely cancel talks with Seoul, North Korea lashed out at the U.S. Wednesday in a state media article, strongly criticizing the U.S. for its recent actions and rhetoric.
The North called out the U.S. and South Korea for joint military drills, specifically the ongoing Max Thunder air combat exercises involving more than one hundred allied military aircraft. North Korea stressed that the drills are a violation of the Panmunjom Declaration signed at the inter-Korean summit. In the relevant state media article, which noted that there are limits to North Korea’s goodwill, the regime cast uncertainty over the future of the Trump-Kim summit. (RELATED: North Korea Calls Trump-Kim Summit Into Question Over US Military Drills With South Korea)
That article was followed a few hours later by a much harsher statement from the North Korean foreign ministry.
Pyongyang expressed strong dissatisfaction with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s offer of economic benefits in exchange for denuclearization, White House national security adviser John Bolton’s suggestion that North Korean denuclearization should follow the problematic “Libya model,” and Trump’s proud claims that his maximum pressure strategy is what brought North Korea to the table. (RELATED: North Korea Says Denuclearization Definitely Not Going To Happen, Threatens To Cancel Summit)
A senior North Korean foreign ministry official explained that if the U.S. miscalculates, “We will no longer be interested in such dialogue and cannot but reconsider our proceeding to the DPRK-US summit.” The report added that if “Trump follows in the footsteps of his predecessors, he will be recorded as a more tragic and unsuccessful president than his predecessors, far from his ambition to make unprecedented success.”
The rhetoric was not as harsh as North Korea is capable of spewing, but it was a clear indication that North Korea is watching and listening carefully to what officials in the Trump administration are saying.
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