US President Donald Trump has done little to quell mounting uncertainty surrounding a hallmark meeting with North Korea’s leader planned for next month, as he held key talks with his South Korean counterpart at the White House.
Trump is scheduled to meet Kim Jong-un in Singapore on June 12, but in recent weeks concerns have been raised over whether the summit will take place amid disagreements over denuclearisation in the Korean peninsula.
“If it doesn’t happen, maybe it will happen later,” Trump said of the meeting, addressing reporters alongside Moon Jae-in. “It may not work out for June 12.”
But Trump, who earlier this month withdrew the US from a multinational nuclear deal with Iran, muddied waters even further.
Saying that despite Kim being “serious” about denuclearisation, there was a “substantial chance” the Singapore summit would not take place at all, unless “certain conditions” were met by North Korea.
Trump has called for a full denuclearisation of the Korean Peninsula and a complete dismantling of North Korea’s nuclear weapons programme.
North Korea has threatened to pull out of the meeting if Washington continues to demand it gives up its nuclear arsenal unilaterally.
Kim Kye-gwan, North Korea’s first vice minister of foreign affairs, said in a statement last week that Pyongyang would “no longer be interested” in dialogue if the US “is trying to drive us into a corner”.
For his part, Moon said the “fate and future” of the peninsula is hinged on the potentially historic planned meeting.
Al Jazeera’s Kimberly Halkett, reporting from Washington, DC, said that there were a lot of doubts about whether or not the summit would go ahead or be delayed and even cancelled.
Describing Trump’s meeting with Moon as “high-stakes” diplomacy, she added: “There is a sense this is a salvage effort salvage effort to try and make sure the June 12 meeting does go ahead”.
SOURCE: Al Jazeera and news agencies