North Korea has threatened to cancel an historic meeting between leader Kim Jong Un and President Donald Trump, but White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders has said the administrations remains hopeful the meeting will take place.
Sanders said in an appearance on Fox News on Wednesday that the tough talk from North Korea is not “out of the ordinary,” adding that Trump remains “ready to meet.”
“We’re still hopeful that the meeting will take place and we’ll continue down that path,” Sanders said. “We’ve been prepared that these could be tough negotiations.”
“The president is ready if the meeting takes place,” she added. “And if it doesn’t, we’ll continue the maximum pressure campaign that’s been ongoing.”
The comments from Sanders came after the state-run Korean Central News Agency suggested North Korea would reconsider the meeting due in part to comments from U.S. officials.
“If the U.S. is trying to drive us into a corner to force our unilateral nuclear abandonment, we will no longer be interested in such dialogue and cannot but reconsider our proceeding to the DPRK-U.S. summit,” said North Korean First Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs Kim Kye Gwan.
Kim pointed to “unbridled remarks” by U.S. officials such as National Security Adviser John Bolton calling on North Korea to abandon nuclear weapons first and be compensated afterward.
The statement from Kim came after North Korea canceled high-level talks with South Korea planned for Wednesday over U.S.-South Korean military drills.
Sanders has sought to downplay the comments from Bolton, who indicated the administration was looking at the “Libya model” as an example of how to move forward in negotiations with North Korea.
Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi’s decision to give up his nuclear weapons program led to the lifting of U.S. sanctions, although the dictator was later overthrown and killed by rebels backed by Washington.
While Sanders acknowledged Bolton’s comment, she argued there is not a “cookie-cutter model on how this works.”
“This is the President Trump model. He’s going to run this the way he sees fit,” Sanders said. “We’re 100 percent confident, as we’ve said many times before, as I’m sure you’re all aware, he’s the best negotiator and we’re very confident on that front.”
In a post on Twitter last Thursday, Trump revealed the planned meeting with Kim Jong Un would be held in Singapore on Tuesday, June 12th.
Trump predicted that the meeting with Kim would be a “very big success” and said the denuclearization of the Korean peninsula would be his “proudest achievement.”
The president previously referred to Kim as a “maniac” and a “madman,” but described the repressive dictator as being “very open” and “honorable” in remarks last month.