23 May 2018Hot off the Press
Trump Administration aides are growing sceptical of the upcoming summit between President Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, suggesting the meeting may not happen at all.
Even while venues in Singapore are being surveyed for the planned summit on June 12, some of the President’s advisors have privately said the chances of the meeting going ahead are slimmer after North Korea’s tone turned harsh toward the US last week, raising questions of the countries commitment to denuclearisation.
Mr Trump seems to remain committed to the meeting, however last weeks developments ,which saw North Korea threaten to cancel the summit after the US engaged in a joint military drill with South Korea, have cast the historic summit into doubt.
A source close to the Administration, as reported by CNN, said it is concerning that Trump is overly eager to meet with Kim Jong-un as it could possibly give Mr Kim leverage during negotiations.
“I don’t think the President gets cold feet about anything,” said Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin when asked by reporters at the White House whether Mr Trump was reconsidering his participation in the summit. “The President is set. Right now it’s still on. If that changes, you’ll find out about it.”
Conflicting accounts are emerging over the issue, with Vice President Mike Pence saying that the President could change his mind if negotiations are not diplomatic.
“It would be a great mistake for Kim Jong-un to think he could play Donald Trump,” Mr Pence told Fox News on Monday.
Asked whether Trump was willing to abandon the summit if his terms aren’t met, Vice President Pence said “there’s no question.”
The recent uncertainty will continue to unfold as Mr Trump plans to meet with South Korean President Moon Jae-in at the Oval Office on Tuesday (local time).
Officials have also said that the South Korean leader has exaggerated North Korea’s commitment to negotiate away its nuclear program, causing further confusion of the terms that North Korea will actually agree to.
It is expected that Mr Moon will advise Mr Trump in a direction that will see the summit go ahead as planned.