Posted: 1:06 pm Wednesday, May 16th, 2018
By Jamie Dupree
A day after North Korea raised objections to a United States demand that Pyongyang end its nuclear weapons program as part of an upcoming summit meeting, President Donald Trump told reporters he would wait to hear more from Kim Jong Un’s government.
“We’ll see what happens,” the President told reporters during an Oval Office photo opportunity. “We’ll have to see. We’ll have to see.”
Asked if Kim was bluffing, the President gave the same answer, but signaled that his own goal for the historic meeting remains the same – the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.
“We haven’t been notified at all,” Mr. Trump said of any possible change to his June 12 summit in Singapore. “We haven’t heard anything. We will see what happens, whatever it is.”
— CSPAN (@cspan) May 16, 2018
Amid the uncertainty, lawmakers in the Congress – both supporters and critics – urged the President to go slow.
“This is a case where we need to verify before we trust,” said Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL), as members say Kim Jong Un has to do more than just promise to pull back on his nuclear ambitions.
— Marco Rubio (@marcorubio) May 16, 2018
“I’ve never put much faith in the summit itself,” said Sen. Jeff Flake (R-AZ), who urged the President to rely more on experts at the State Department, amid concerns that the North Koreans might talk a lot about change, but not follow through on that.
“We will not solve this in one meeting but we can make it worse if we are excitable,” said Sen. Brian Schatz (D-HI).
Meanwhile, foreign policy experts said it should be no surprise that the North would push back on the President’s demand for an end to Pyongyang’s nuclear program, arguing that total denuclearization as a first step might be an unrealistic goal.
“All or nothing approach to diplomacy will likely yield nothing,” said Richard Haass, the head of the Council on Foreign Relations.
“Kim Jung Un has jump-started the North Korea nuclear talks with this abrasive but predictable statement,” said Nicholas Burns, a top diplomat in both the Clinton and Bush Administrations.
BREAKING: Trump responds to NKorea threat to cancel Kim Jong Un summit, says he will still insist on denuclearization.
— AP Politics (@AP_Politics) May 16, 2018
The change in tone came late Monday, when North Korea suddenly threatened to cancel the Trump-Kim summit because of previously scheduled military drills involving American and South Korean forces.
“Don’t give Kim Jong Un anything for free,” said Senate Democratic Leader Charles Schumer. “We must be strong, and we must be resolute – this exercise should move forward.”