Washington, May 11
President Donald Trump would seek a “complete, irreversible and verifiable” denuclearisation of the Korean Peninsula during his summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un in Singapore on June 12, the White House has said.
Hours after Trump announced the location and date of what is being billed as the historic US-N Korea summit, the White House cautioned against any new provocative behaviour by Pyongyang. Such a move might force the US to halt the meeting, a presidential spokesman said yesterday.
“Our policy is to ensure the complete, irreversible and verifiable denuclearisation of the Korean Peninsula. And that’s what he’s going to be seeking,” White House Deputy Press Secretary Raj Shah told reporters aboard the Air Force One travelling to Indiana.
“We have a month and several days. And there are a number of things — provocative actions, for example, from North Korea would not be received well. All I’ll say is that the meeting has been agreed to, but obviously it could be halted for any number of reasons,” Shah said with a note of caution to the North Koreans.
The main issue under discussion at the Trump-Kim summit will be North Korea’s nuclear weapons, which the US is demanding Pyongyang give up.
Shah added that Singapore was selected as the venue for the historic meeting because it had political ties with both the countries.
“Singapore has a relationship with both the United States and North Korea. They can ensure both the President’s and Kim Jong-un’s security, as well as provide neutrality,” he added.
“Singaporeans have been gracious up until now and also in the past. In fact, on a historical note, the first meeting between the leaders of China and Taiwan took place in Singapore some years back,” Shah noted.
As of now, only one day has been kept for the meeting between Trump and Kim Jong-un, he said, adding that planning was still in progress.
Shah told reporters that prior to the invitation being accepted, the North Koreans had agreed to halt their ballistic missile testing, their nuclear testing, and not publicly oppose joint US-South Korean military exercises.
“So those were the initial steps that the North Koreans took. We’ll hold them to those steps. And then, obviously, there have been subsequent conversations,” he said.
On being asked if anything else was to happen between now and the summit, Shah replied, “I’m not setting additional pre-conditions. It’s now been set.”
Victoria Coates, Senior Director for International Negotiations at the National Security Council, the White House, told reporters that the meeting could be scuttled if Kim Jong-un did something unacceptable to the US.
It is possible that leaders from South Korea and China could also be present in Singapore at that time, she added.
Meanwhile, US media commented that if Trump is successful in convincing Kim to agree to a verifiable eradication of his nuclear weapons program — a huge if — Trump will have achieved a breakthrough that has eluded previous presidents.
“If he can end the standoff that has prevailed since the 1950-53 Korean War, he will have won a place in history that may offer redemption in posterity even if his presidency ends in ignominy,” CNN commented.
A new CNN poll shows that after rattling the nation and the world last year by threatening to wipe North Korea off the map, his turn to diplomacy is winning increasing public approval.
Some 53 per cent of Americans approve of his handling of North Korea policy and 77 per cent back his decision to meet Kim at a summit in Singapore next month.
That means Trump’s stewardship of the nuclear crisis is now far more popular than the President himself, the network said.
But it also raises the tantalising possibility that a successful outcome to the summit and a dominant showing abroad could begin to lift the President’s overall approval rating a little ahead of midterm elections in November, it added. PTI