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Kim Jong-un and South Korean Leader Meet in Bid to Salvage U.S. Talks

“We’ll see what happens,” Mr. Trump told reporters. “We’d like to do it. We’ll see what happens.”

For weeks, Mr. Trump had issued a steady stream of enthusiastic comments and tweets on his planned summit with Mr. Kim, although he also warned it might not happen.

Signs of trouble emerged last week, when North Korea issued two angry statements. North Korea first pulled out of planned high-level talks with South Korea, protesting a joint military exercise between the South and the United States, which it called a rehearsal for invasion.

It also warned that if Washington continued to insist on a “unilateral” abandonment of its nuclear arsenal, it would “no longer be interested” in a summit with Mr. Trump. The North focused its anger on Mr. Trump’s hard-line national security adviser, John R. Bolton, who has demanded that North Korea dismantle its nuclear arsenal before expecting reciprocal measures from Washington, like the easing of sanctions or security assurances.

When United States officials arrived in Singapore last week for working-level talks with the North Korean counterparts to prepare for the summit, the North Koreans stood them up, according to White House officials.

Then in an interview this week, Vice President Mike Pence repeated Mr. Bolton’s demand, warning that North Korea might “end like the Libyan model” if Mr. Kim does not denuclearize.

In 2003, Libya’s former leader, Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi, handed over a nascent nuclear weapons program in the hopes of better ties with Washington — only to be killed years later by rebels supported by Washington and its European allies.

On Thursday, North Korea called Mr. Pence a “political dummy” and warned of a “nuclear-to-nuclear showdown” with the United States, again threatening to cancel the summit with Mr. Trump. Hours later, Mr. Trump acted first, canceling it.

Source: NYT > World

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