Trump suggests summit with North Korea's Kim could be delayed

Washington: US President Donald Trump has suggested that a planned historic meeting with North Korea's Kim Jong-un could be delayed.

"There's a very substantial chance that it won't work out [for June 12]," he said.

Trump raised the possibility that the meeting could be pushed back during a White House meeting with South Korea President Moon Jae-in, trying to coordinate strategy as concerns mounted over ensuring a successful outcome for the North Korea summit.

Donald Trump met with South Korean President Moon Jae-in on Wednesday to talk about the upcoming North Korea summit.

Trump said "there's a very substantial chance" that the meeting won't take place on June 12. "That doesn't mean it won't work out over a period of time," he said. "But it may not work out for June 12. But there is a good chance that we'll have the meeting."

Moon said in the Oval Office that the "fate and the future" of the Korean Peninsula hinged on the talks, telling the US President that they were "one step closer" to the dream of a denuclearised Korean Peninsula.

Trump said he'd noticed "a little change" in Kim's "attitude" after Kim took a second trip to China this month in the run-up to the summit. "I don't like that," Trump said.

Trump said he hoped that Chinese President Xi Jinping was committed to the goal of denuclearising the Korean peninsula, calling him a world-class poker player. But he said he was displeased by China's softening of border enforcement measures against North Korea.

Trump encouraged Kim to seize the opportunity for the meeting and to make a deal to abandon his nuclear program, pledging not only to guarantee Kim's personal security, but also predicting an economic revitalisation for the North.

"I will guarantee his safety, yes," Trump said, if Kim agrees to complete, verifiable, and irreversible denuclearisation. He said if an agreement is reached, China, Japan and South Korea would invest large sums to "make North Korea great".

Trump said the long-term status of the peninsula will be up to the North and South, and that the immediate goal for his summit is "two successful Koreas".

He added: "Ultimately, maybe someday in the future [you'll] go back to one Korea".

The two Koreas both seek reunification of the divided Korean peninsula on their own terms but it has always been a distant aspiration because of the incompatibility of their political systems and their mutual suspicion. Any move toward reunification would first likely require a peace settlement to formally end the 1950-53 Korean War, which the two Koreas say they are aiming for.

Fresh questions were raised on Tuesday about North Korea's goals and motives, with a Pentagon report to Congress that says nuclear weapons are central to North Korea's strategic goal of ensuring the perpetual the rule of the Kim family dynasty. The report on North Korea's military capabilities was based on an assessment of developments in 2017 and was provided to Congress in April. It was posted online by an anti-secrecy group.

AP

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