Trump offers Kim 'protections' if he surrenders nukes

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Pyongyang slammed Trump for claiming that his maximum pressure strategy brought a weakened North Korea to the table, Pompeo for offering to save North Korea from economic despair, and White House national security adviser John Bolton for insisting the USA had the "Libya model" in mind for North Korean denuclearization.

High-ranking officials of the White House and the Department of State including Bolton, White House national security adviser, are letting loose the assertions of so-called Libya mode of nuclear abandonment, "complete, verifiable and irreversible denuclearization", "total decommissioning of nuclear weapons, missiles and biochemical weapons" etc. while talking about formula of "abandoning nuclear weapons first, compensating afterwards".

Bolton's statements, and past references to the Libyan model of denuclearization, have indicated to the Koreans that the U.S. is not actually willing to negotiate, that the Trump administration has a hard-line about what it requires from North Korea which leaves little room for flexibility.

Bolton had put Pyongyang on alert with his remarks just days back suggesting the country's denuclearisation should follow the "Libya model" obeyed by its leader Muammar Gaddafi.

US President Donald Trump said on Thursday said North Korea would get "very strong" protections if it were to give up its nuclear weapons.

North Korea has engaged in a number of bitter clashes with Mr. Bolton when he served in the George W. Bush administration, calling him "human scum" and a "bloodsucker".

Trump told reporters that if the meeting with Kim happens then "it happens" and if not the United States will go on to the next step.

The president added that his team is now working with North Korean counterparts to finalize details for the upcoming June 12 meeting in Singapore.

"If North Korea takes bold action to quickly denuclearize", Pompeo said, "the United States is prepared to work with North Korea to achieve prosperity on par with our South Korean friends".

But Mr Trump warned that failure to make a deal could have grave consequences for Kim.

South Korean soldiers get a look at North Korea on Wednesday at the Imjingak Pavilion near the border village of Panmunjom
South Korean soldiers get a look at North Korea on Wednesday at the Imjingak Pavilion near the border village of Panmunjom

Trump said that while he has been "reading stories" about North Korea's comments, Kim's government hasn't altered arrangements for the summit.

North Korea has previously cited Libya as an example of why it wouldn't give up its nuclear weapons as this is what Gaddafi pledged to do in late 2003 and was subsequently overthrown from power and killed by rebels on October 20, 2011 with the help of USA military support.

But Trump seemed focused on the overthrow of Gaddafi years later, an outcome that has led to a power vacuum and widespread chaos in Libya.

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 Kim. "Now, that model would take place if we don't make a deal, most likely".

First Vice Foreign Minister Kim Kye Gwan rebuked Bolton for advocating "the Libya model of 2003-2004" that precludes any concessions such as sanctions relief before full denuclearization.

Kazianis pointed out that for the North Koreans, "nuclear weapons are all they have that would ever stave off regime change", which is the top fear of the leadership in Pyongyang. "It was incredibly reckless and unsafe".

Not surprisingly, North Korea bristles at the mention of Libya. "I think what the North Koreans did - and it's pretty smart - they decided not to keep negotiating".

Bolton, who served in the State Department and as United Nations ambassador in the Bush administration, replaced Lt. Gen. H.R. McMaster in April. It cancelled planned high-level talks with South Korea earlier this week. We saw this morning that North Korea apparently, allegedly, sent out a statement about South Korea. Trump will host South Korean President Moon Jae-in at the White House on May 22.

"Well, the Libyan model isn't a model that we have (in mind) at all when we're thinking of North Korea". Asked if he will still insist on denuclearization, the president said, "Yes".

Pyongyang has said it won't return to talks with Seoul due to the exercises.

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