Washington: After announcing history will be made on June 12 as the President of U.S. and North Korea meet in the first summit of its kind, U.S. President Donald Trump has done something of a backtrack.
As he was hosting his counterpart from South Korea Moon Jae-in, President Donald Trump today suggested that his historic summit with Kim Jong-un "may not work out" even as he asserted that the North Korean leader was "serious" about denuclearisation.
Trump met his South Korean counterpart Moon Jae-in at the White House today as the fate of the much-awaited June 12 Singapore summit between him and Kim loomed large. As he welcomed Moon in the Oval Office, Trump told reporters that it will be great if his meeting with Kim occurred as scheduled, but if did not, it will take place later. "We're moving along. We'll see what happens," Trump said in response to a question. "There's a very substantial chance that it won't work out. That doesn't mean that it won't work out over a period of time, but it may not work out for June 12," Trump said in the Oval Office where he hosted Moon.
Trump and Kim are scheduled to meet in Singapore on June 12. However, North Korea has threatened to cancel the meeting over a joint U.S.-South Korea military exercise. The U.S. has said it was going ahead with the preparation for the summit.
"You will know soon," Trump told reporters about the summit. "If it doesn't happen, maybe it will happen later...You never know about deals...I've made a lot of deals. You never really know," Trump said.
The U.S. President when asked about North Korea’s intentions towards denuclearization said he believed Kim was "serious" about denuclearization as he aims to push ahead with the Singapore summit. "I do think he is serious. I think he is absolutely very serious," he said, but declined to say whether he had spoken to Kim.
Hours after Trump spoke, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo sought to cast a more optimistic view of the talks, appearing for the first time in the State Department briefing room to insist a June 12 meet was still the goal. "We're working to make sure that there is a common understanding about the contents of what will be discussed. But I'm optimistic," Pompeo said. "It could be something that comes right to the end and doesn't happen. As the President said, we'll see. And that is the place that we find ourselves."
Earlier, Moon's national security advisor Chung Eui-yong told reporters that there were 99.9 per cent chances for the summit to happen. "We believe there is a 99.9 per cent chance the North Korea-US summit (set for June 12 in Singapore) will be held as scheduled. But we're just preparing for many different possibilities," Chung told reporters. "We're trying to understand the situation from the North's perspective," he said when asked about changes in North Korea's rhetoric.
The CNN is reporting that some U.S. officials believe Moon oversold Pyongyang's promises when his government relayed Kim's invitation to Trump for talks in March. At the time his envoy said North Korea was "committed to denuclearization," but recent statements from the North have cast doubts on Kim's willingness to negotiate away his nuclear weapons.
The two leaders – Trump and Moon were scheduled to have a candid conversation – in multiple settings including over lunch at the White House - on how to make the North-U.S. summit a success and produce significant agreements and how to best implement those agreements, Chung said. "South Korea and the U.S. have been sharing every bit of information and have remained in close coordination with each other," Chung said. "We've had various working-level discussions on how to steer North Korea in a direction that we want, and I expect (Moon and Trump) will have great talks this time," he added.
However, the White House has grown pessimistic in recent days, especially keeping in mind North Korea’s track record on talks, and Trump underscored the uncertainty on Tuesday. (With Agency inputs)