North Korean leader Kim Jong Un should not attempt to “play” U.S. President Donald Trump at their upcoming summit, Vice President Mike Pence said on Monday evening, adding the U.S. “will not tolerate” a nuclear-armed-Pyongyang.
Speaking following a week of renewed uncertainty on whether the summit – slated to take place on June 12 – will go ahead, the Vice President sought to place the pressure for the meeting back on North Korea, recalling that it was Pyongyang which had first proposed it take place and reiterating that “we continue to be open to it.”
“But rest assured that the United States will continue on the path that we are on,” Pence told Fox News. “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.”
Pence offered a message to the North Korean leader, saying “it would be a great mistake for Kim Jong Un to think he could play Donald Trump.”
The fate of the planned June 12 summit in Singapore has been in question following DPRK first Vice-Minister of Foreign Affairs Kim Kye Gwan threats last week that Pyongyang may “reconsider” its participation in the summit.
In a statement, the DPRK diplomat blamed U.S. National Security Adviser John Bolton for raising the so-called “Libya model” of denuclearization for North Korea.
President Trump later in the week sought to clarify the White House’s position, saying that Kim Jong Un would “get protections” in a denuclearization deal while warning that North Korea could be “decimated” if a deal failed.
“If the meeting happens, it happens, and if it doesn’t, we go onto the next step,” Trump said.
Asked on Monday if he thought the summit would go on as planned, Pence answered: “As the president often says… we’ll see.”
“I don’t think President Trump is thinking about public relations,” the Vice President said in response to concerns Trump may go ahead with the summit to avoid the embarrassment of having to withdraw.
“He’s thinking about peace, he’s thinking about how we achieve what has eluded successive American administrations (who have) offered concessions to the North Korean regime in exchange for promises to end their nuclear weapons program, only to see them break those promises and abandon them.”
Meanwhile, South Korean President Moon Jae-in is set to hold talks with President Trump in Washington on Tuesday to discuss the upcoming summit.
Edited by Oliver Hotham
Featured Image: Gage Skidmore
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