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Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 18 September 2018

Donald Trump tells Kim Jong-un: Make a deal or risk same fate as Qaddafi

Administration cited 'the Libya model of 2003-2004' as a basis for the North Korea talks last month

The US president also suggested China was influencing North Korea’s thinking regarding the summit, pointing to Kim’s visit to China immediately before secretary of state Mike Pompeo visited Pyongyang last week to finalise the summit date and location. Korean Central News Agency/Korea News Service via AP
The US president also suggested China was influencing North Korea’s thinking regarding the summit, pointing to Kim’s visit to China immediately before secretary of state Mike Pompeo visited Pyongyang last week to finalise the summit date and location. Korean Central News Agency/Korea News Service via AP

US president Donald Trump laid out a stark choice for North Korea’s Kim Jong-un ahead of their planned summit next month: abandon nuclear weapons and be rewarded with “protections” or risk being overthrown and possible death if the arsenal remains.

Mr Trump maintained the scheduled June 12 meeting in Singapore is on track, despite the North’s threat Wednesday to cancel over concerns about the US push to see the complete denuclearisation of the Korean Peninsula.

The North has argued it needs its nuclear weapons to preserve its security and has expressed concerns about giving up its nuclear program. The North cites the example of former Libyan leader Muammar Qaddafi, who died at the hands of rebel forces amid a popular uprising in October 2011; he had given up his nuclear programme in the 2000s.

National Security Adviser John Bolton explicitly cited “the Libya model of 2003-2004” as a basis for the North Korea talks last month, which drew personal rebuke from the North Korean government on Wednesday.

Trying to address the North Korean concerns, the president said if Kim were to agree to denuclearise, “he’ll get protections that would be very strong”.

But Mr Trump warned that failure to make a deal could have grave consequences for Kim. Mentioning what happened in Libya, he said, “That model would take place if we don’t make a deal.”

“The Libyan model isn’t the model we have at all. In Libya we decimated that country.” Mr Trump added. “There was no deal to keep Qaddafi.”

Mr Trump said he is “willing to do a lot” to provide security guarantees to Kim. “The best thing he could do is make a deal.”

The US president also suggested China was influencing North Korea’s thinking regarding the summit, pointing to Kim’s visit to China immediately before secretary of state Mike Pompeo visited Pyongyang last week to finalise the summit date and location.

Mr Trump said Thursday that nothing has changed with respect to North Korea after the warning from Pyongyang. He said North Korean officials are discussing logistical details about the meeting with the US “as if nothing happened.”

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Korea summit

North Korea threatens to cancel US summit

US ready to offer North Korea security assurances and investment

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In addition to threatening to pull out of the meeting with Mr Trump, the North abruptly cancelled a planned meeting with South Korean officials over joint US-South Korean military exercises.

Pentagon spokeswoman Dana White said Thursday that the schedule of military exercises hasn’t changed. She added the annual exercises are long-planned, defensive in nature and meant to ensure the readiness of US and South Korean forces.

Exercise Max Thunder began Monday and concludes May 25. It includes aircraft from across the US military services. Last year’s exercise included roughly 1,200 US personnel and about 640 South Koreans. This year’s drill is similar.

Speaking at an Oval Office meeting with Nato Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg, Trump also said he will not discuss US troop levels in South Korea during his meeting with Mr Kim.

The North has said it won’t return to talks with Seoul due to the exercises.

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