Trump willing to offer Kim 'strong protections'

Trump says he is willing to offer North Korean leader “protections” if he agrees to surrender his nuclear weapons.

Elad Benari,

Donald Trump
Donald Trump

U.S. President Donald Trump on Thursday sought to reassure North Korean leader Kim Jong Un after Kim's government threatened to pull out of the upcoming nuclear summit with the United States.

Speaking to reporters at the White House, Trump said he is “willing to do a lot” to offer Kim “protections” if the North Korean leader agrees to surrender his nuclear weapons.

“He will get protections that are very strong,” Trump said during an Oval Office meeting with NATO’s secretary-general, according to The Hill.

“The best thing he could do is make a deal,” added the president.

Trump said preparations for the meeting are moving ahead "as if nothing happened," adding the U.S. has not heard official word from the North Koreans about any intention to pull out.

"Our people are literally dealing with them right now in terms of making arrangements, so that's a lot different than what you read, but oftentimes what you read, if it's not fake news, is true," he said.

North Korea on Tuesday said that the summit between Trump and Kim, which is currently scheduled for June 12, is at risk because of joint military exercises between the U.S. and South Korea.

An official in Pyongyang also stated that the summit was in jeopardy because Kim was angered by national security adviser John Bolton's suggestion that the Trump administration could use a “Libya model” with North Korea.

“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 and cannot but reconsider our proceeding to the DPRK-U.S. summit,” North Korean Vice Foreign Minister Kim Kye Gwan said.

Libyan leader Muammar Qaddafi was forced from power in 2011 with the help of NATO forces just eight years after striking a deal with the U.S. to give up his nuclear weapons. He was captured and killed that same year.

Trump said the agreement he is seeking with North Korea is not like the one the Bush administration made with Qaddafi in 2003.

"The Libyan model isn't a model that we have at all when we are thinking of North Korea," Trump said. "In Libya we decimated that country. That country was decimated. There was no deal to keep Qaddafi. The Libyan model that was mentioned was a much different deal.”

Trump indicated nuclear-related sanctions would remain in full effect if the talks with North Korea fall through, but said that a deal would allow Kim to continue "running his country" and allow it to become "very rich."

U.S. officials recently said that North Korea had directly confirmed that Kim was willing to negotiate about potential denuclearization. Kim later announced himself that his country would close its nuclear test site and suspend long-range missile tests.

Trump on the weekend welcomed the dismantling of North Korea’s nuclear test site, saying the move is "a very smart and gracious gesture".

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