May 22, 2018, 6:02 AM ET

Trump enters talks with Moon amid uncertainty over North Korea summit


Just three weeks before a planned summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, President Donald Trump is hosting South Korea’s President Moon Jae-in on Tuesday for talks as they work to assess whether North Korea’s commitment to rid itself of its nuclear program is genuine.

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Moon has long been a driving force behind the diplomacy between the United States and North Korea, and personally encouraged Trump to meet with Kim. In March, Moon sent special envoys to North Korea to encourage talks between Pyongyang and Washington.

Last week, North Korea scrapped a series of follow up high-level talks with South Korea and threatened to cancel the upcoming Singapore summit between Trump and Kim in protest of the ongoing military drills between the United States and South Korea.

The White House hasn’t indicated there will be a press conference between Trump and Moon, but this will be the first time the two are able to meet in person to discuss the status of the summit between Trump and Kim, and examine what options are on the table. While the two have spoken over the phone, it will also be their first meeting in person to discuss Moon’s recent summit with Kim.

While the surprise threat to cancel the meeting caught the president and the State Department off guard, White House press secretary Sarah Sanders said it was something the administration fully expected.

PHOTO: North and South Korea SummitKorea Summit Press Pool/Getty Images
North and South Korea Summit

Vice President Mike Pence said in an interview Monday that the administration is still open to the planned summit with Kim.

“They asked for the meeting and we continue to be open to it,” Pence told Fox News. “But rest assured that the United States will continue on the path that we are on because this president has made it clear that we will not tolerate North Korea possessing nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles that threaten the United States and our allies.”

The change in tone from North Korea last week went from that the all-smiles meetings between Kim and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, to the regime’s chief negotiator Kim Kye Gwan issuing a statement saying he is “totally disappointed” by recent “extremely unjust” comments from U.S. officials and singling out the American demand that North Korea give up all its nuclear weapons before getting anything in return.

“We -- we want to see the denuclearization process so completely underway that it’s irreversible,” national security adviser John Bolton said.

The North Koreans have sent mixed messages on denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.

“... If the U.S. is trying to drive us into a corner to force our unilateral nuclear abandonment, we will no longer be interested in such dialogue and cannot but reconsider our proceeding to the DPRK-U.S. summit,” Kim Kye Gwan said in a statement last week.

But while there have been some heated threats to pull out of the June 12 summit, North Korean officials have vowed to dismantle their nuclear testing facility in front of the media this week and appear to be moving forward with closing down the nuclear facility, which is the latest sign of goodwill in the Korean Peninsula.

The North Koreans also seemed particularly upset by Bolton, who called on them to do what Libya did more than a decade ago.

Bolton has repeatedly said that the administration plans to pursue "the Libya model," which calls for a strict monitoring and inspection plan to ensure North Korea has denuclearized. However, that comparison evoked the country’s descent into chaos following the deadly ouster of Prime Minister Muammar Gaddafi.

Kim Kye Gwan directly criticized the model in a lengthy statement last week, accusing U.S. officials of "provoking" the country with "unbridled remarks."

The president soon publicly undercut Bolton’s so-called Libya model comparison in remarks to reporters in the Oval Office last week.

“The Libyan model isn’t a model that we have at all, when we're thinking of North Korea,” Trump said, before floating the idea of potential protections for Kim Jong Un as a conclusion following successful negotiations. “There was no deal to keep Qaddafi. The Libyan model that was mentioned was a much different deal. This would be with Kim Jong-un -- something where he'd be there, he'd be in his country, he'd be running his country. His country would be very rich.”

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  • Andrew Bierce

    Finally we have an American President giving Kim Jong Un the respect he deserves as a world leader and all-around great guy.

  • Stephen Bishop

    Sorry Trump, no Nobel for the Traitor-in-Chief.

  • Pat Baxter

    Trump has allowed Kim Jong-un an upper hand. Kim Jong-un is calling the shots now. Kim Jong-un will let Trump know if he'll meet with Trump and if so, the demands Trump must meet. Kim Jong-un is playing Trump like a violin.

  • 40acre

    If "the Whitehouse" was expecting this, as Sanders said, why was Donnie already talking about getting the Nobel Peace prize?

  • KingPeter

    I see this as Kim Jong showing everyone that he can, and does, command the situation. He is calling almost every shot in this whole storyline. Gets SK to consider official peace, and then turns around and is basically saying that the Summit may not happen now. But, in the meantime, he has Donnie praising him and talking about what a great leader he is. While the leader of the U.S. is made to look more foolish...He is dismantling his "test site" after he announced that it is no longer needed because they have attained their goal of nuclear weapons and testing is no longer needed. Good gesture, but and empty gesture. This whole thing is being controlled by Kim Jong and the world is watching how he is playing Donnie. Wait until SK lets their guard down for just 1 second, Kim Jong will be taking over there as well.

  • ExtraStealth

    Now if only Trump would go to the moon...and stay there.

  • b rubble

    Hey look Donald. That tiny wall in the photo separating the north from the south is bigger than your wall. Wonder who paid for it.

  • b rubble

    At the nuclear summit in Singapore.
    Trump - (picks up phone) ‘Fantastic. OK great.’ (puts down phone) ‘Hey, everybody! I just won the Nobel prize!’
    Moon - Hey everyone, was it just me or did he just answer his phone that did not ring?

  • Morgan O'Rourke

    I wonder how many other leaders think trump is just an idiot?

  • Tertulliano

    From "Rocket man", to "Honorable", to "Supreme Leader" ... someone is bowing to Kim Jong Un

  • tet1953

    What makes Trump think that the fate of Kim Jong Un is up to him, or America?

  • RZC

    This meeting is most likely not going to happen Kim has played Trump like a chump
    The conversation is all over Trump has been declared a mega liar and all around jerk.

  • Richard Cardo

    What could possibly go right?

  • mollydtt

    Why would any country on earth enter into any "understanding" or agreement with the U S?
    Trump doesn't honor U S commitments or agreements, doesn't believe in NATO, TPP, the Iran Nuclear deal. (Trump and his "advisers" also don't know much about history, but that is another problem.)
    He made the U S one of only two (I think) countries that are not in the Paris Climate Accord, and he doesn't even actually think the U S needs any European allies.
    China, I believe, will take charge of pretty much everything, and then let Trump know what he needs to do. If Trump balks, or complains, ---who cares?

  • brian nrndss

    fly on the wall: this placed bugged by the FBI? would I Know they work for you T.....oh that's right; not really T....what is going on with fat boy M...don't know he is crazy I told you remember his step bro and the Amer. that dished his pic. T....maybe we should just send a missile or something, we had access to his sis......... we live too close

  • JohnC

    So it seems Bolton is more a bull in a china shop than a diplomat. Hmmm, who could have predicted that?

  • TrumpsKlan

    This administration has accomplished almost nothing unless you count executive orders that will be reversed . The only thing they have done is pass a tax bill that even their most ardent supporters admit has done little. That tax giveaway has done very little to help the middle-class. The windfall corporations received have not been used to create jobs or invest in their businesses but for stock buybacks and corporate bonuses .Barrons showed a chart proving business growth under the last administration was 3% higher then under Trump

  • Prophet With Honor

    Trump backs out of treaties and agreements, demands that other nations accept our unilateral terms, and changes what we are asking for on a whim.
    It doesn't give us much credibility.

  • Erwin Schrodinger

    Who knew denuclearization talks were so complicated?!?

  • TrumpsKlan

    Trump has already given Kim Jung what he has been asking for many years-recognition as a world leader .

  • Wrecking Ball

    It seems this Trump fella should be going to prison for conspiracy against the United States.

  • bibleexpert

    While the surprise threat to cancel the meeting caught the president and the State Department off guard, White House press secretary Sarah Sanders said it was something the administration fully expected.

    I'm sure the fact that Trump just demonstrated he can't be trusted to keep an agreement had nothing to do with it, or Bolton's expressed eagerness to impose the "Libyan model" on N. Korea.

  • JohnC

    They can pull this off if they find some actual diplomats to help do the talking. Otherwise I'm less hopeful.

  • Michelle

    No question but what Kim Jong Un has won! Look at all the attention the leader of North Korea has gotten--and all the compliments from President Trump. All previous Presidents realized that Kim Jong Un was trying to play them and had no intention of giving up his nuclear weapons. Poor dumb Trump was so naive and gullible that he thought he should be given the Nobel peace prize for all the progress that the leaders of both North and South Korea had made in their own meetings.
    Trump has no leadership or negotiating skills--he has shown the world that he is a conceited spoiled little rich kid that is afraid to show his own citizens his tax returns because they will reveal how bad he is in financial deals and will show that he uses dishonesty, money laundering, and cheating on his income tax returns to fool Americans into thinking he is wealthy. His businesses are so shakey that he needs the taxpayers to pay for his personal expenses at his golf courses and Florida estate. Without these Government payoffs, they would all be bankrupt.

  • Your Worst Nightmare

    You want to stay positive but how can anyone still believe NK will give up its Nukes especially when Bolton threatened Kim with the Gaddafi model? Trump is also threatening Iran after breaking our word with them.

    So both sides have reason not to trust each other. NK basically already said it would not give up its nukes so if that is Trump's demand, all this effort is for nothing. Trump sabotaged these talks as if on purpose, or more likely, ignorance.

  • John Galt

    In the next 30 days, Trump supporters will be "all in" on growing food stock for China since the negotiated hold on tarriffs. Trump is so stupid, Xi knows now that Trump's supporters will go bankrupt if China throws tarriffs on food imports. It's like playing poker with a moron who keeps showing you their cards before you bid or fold.

  • John Galt

    I am sure Xi will tell Kim, meet with the toothless tiger. He is harmless.

  • DistanceMatters

    Kim will never give up his nuclear weapons, never. He is a ruthless dictator intent on keeping his power and extending it. The welfare of his people mean nothing...he and Trump are playing a sick game of parades.