President Donald Trump today said the US will go on to the next step if his planned summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un does not materialise, as he sought to blame China for a change in Pyongyang's stance on the historic meeting between the two leaders.
A cloud of uncertainty continues to hover over Trump's meeting with Kim in Singapore as North Korea on Tuesday abruptly threatened to pull out of the planned June 12 summit, blaming US demands for "unilateral nuclear abandonment". Pyongyang has also taken strong exceptions to military drills between the US and South Korea.
"We'll see what happens. If the meeting happens, it happens. And if it doesn't, we go on to the next step," Trump told reporters in the Oval Office.
Seeking to placate Kim, Trump offered him guarantees of staying in power if he abandons nuclear weapons, but threatened that a diplomacy failure could lead to a situation where the North Korean leader could suffer the same fate as Libya's Moamer Kadhafi, who was overthrown and killed by rebels.
Trump, responding to reporters' questions on the sudden change in the North Korean leaders' stance towards the summit said "things changed" when they met with China.
"It could very well be that he's (Chinese President Xi Jinping) influencing Kim Jong Un. We'll see what happens. Meaning the president of China, President Xi could be influencing Kim Jong Un. But we'll see," he said, questioning the second meeting between Xi and Kim in less than two months.
"I really don't know, no. I want to give everybody the benefit of the doubt. I can only say are people are literally dealing with them right now in terms of making arrangements for the meeting. So that's a lot different from what you read, but oftentimes what you read if it's not fake news, it's true. So we'll see what happens," Trump said when asked if his meeting with Chairman Kim is happening.
"We are dealing with them now. We may have the meeting; we may not have the meeting. If we don't have it, that will be very interesting. We'll see what happens. The border is still quite strong," he said, as he tended to blame the Chinese for the sudden change in the North Korean stance.
The US President said "things changed a little bit" after they (North Korean leaders) had the second meeting with President Xi, which, Trump said was a little bit of a "surprise meeting".
"With that being said, my attitude is whatever happens happens. Either way, we're going to be in great shape," Trump said.
Trump appeared to soften his stance towards the North Korean leaders as he sounded hopeful of the meeting and sought to dismiss negative reports regarding the fate of the summit.
"But I will say this, we are continuing to negotiate in terms of location, the location where to meet, how to meet, rooms, everything else, and they've been negotiating like nothing happened. But if you read the newspapers, maybe it won't happen.
"I can't tell you yet. I will tell you very shortly. We're going to know very soon," Trump said when asked about the media reports appearing in this regard.
Trump refuted the North Korean allegations that the US wants to treat them as it did with Libya.
"Well, the Libyan model isn't a model that we have (in mind) at all when we're thinking of North Korea. In Libya, we decimated that country. That country was decimated. There was no deal to keep Gadhafi. The Libyan model that was mentioned was a much different deal," he said.
"We went in there (Libya) to beat him (Gadhafi). Now that model would take place if we don't make a deal, most likely," Trump said.
He said if they struck a deal, Kim would become "very happy.
"I really believe he's going to be very happy," Trump said.
"This would be with Kim Jong Un something where he'd be there. He'd be in his country. He'd be running his country. His country would be very rich... This would be really a South Korean model in terms of their industry, in terms of what they do," he asserted.
Assuming that the two countries would have their summit, Trump said they would have a "good relationship" and that Kim's regime would get protections that will be "very strong".