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The Journal Gazette

Thursday, May 17, 2018 1:00 am

N. Korea threatens to pass on summit

Trump: 'We'll see what happens'

Associated Press

WASHINGTON – Amid fresh uncertainty over his planned summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, President Donald Trump said Wednesday that he is committed to pressing for the country to abandon its nuclear program as part of any meeting.

North Korea threatened earlier in the day to scrap the historic summit between Trump and Kim, saying it has no interest in a “one-sided” affair meant to pressure the North to abandon its nuclear weapons. But Trump appeared to shrug off the warning saying the U.S. hadn't been notified.

“We haven't seen anything, we haven't heard anything,” Trump said as he welcomed the president of Uzbekistan to the White House. “We will see what happens.”

The warning from North Korea's first vice foreign minister came after the country abruptly canceled a high-level meeting with South Korea to protest U.S.-South Korean military exercises that the North has long claimed are an invasion rehearsal.

Behind the scenes, White House aides tried to soothe South Korean frustrations over the canceled meeting with the North as they continue to plan for the summit, set for June 12 in Singapore, as if nothing had changed. U.S. officials compared the threat to Trump's own warning that he might walk away from the summit if he determines Kim is not serious about abandoning his nuclear program.

The direction from the Oval Office to White House aides and other U.S. national security agencies Wednesday was to downplay the North Korean threats and not “take the bait” by overreacting to the provocation, said a senior U.S. official. 

National Security Adviser John Bolton told Fox News Radio on Wednesday that “we are trying to be both optimistic and realistic at the same time.”