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US President Donald Trump says there is a “substantial chance” his summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un will not take place as planned on June 12 amid concerns that Mr Kim is not committed to denuclearisation.
Mr Trump raised doubts about the Singapore summit in talks with South Korean President Moon Jae-in, who came to Washington to urge Mr Trump not to let a rare opportunity with reclusive North Korea get away.
If the summit is called off or fails, it would be a major blow to what Mr Trump’s supporters hope will be the biggest diplomatic achievement of his presidency, and a huge disappointment for Mr Trump.
“There’s a very substantial chance … it won’t work out. And that’s OK,” Mr Trump told reporters.
“That doesn’t mean it won’t work out over a period of time. But it may not work out for June 12.
“But there is a good chance that we’ll have the meeting.”
Mr Trump said whether the meeting would be held as scheduled would be determined “pretty soon”.
“North Korea has a chance to be a great country and I think they should seize the opportunity,” he said.
Mr Trump’s Oval Office remarks were the strongest sign from him yet about the possibility of a delay or cancellation of what would be the first-ever summit between the leaders of the United States and North Korea.
It was unclear whether Mr Trump was truly backing away from a summit he is eager to hold or whether he was strategically coaxing North Korea to the table after decades of tension on the Korean peninsula and antagonism with Washington over its nuclear weapons program.
“Trump doesn’t want to look like he wants this summit more than Kim does,” said Bonnie Glaser, an analyst at the Centre for Strategic and International Studies in Washington.
“It’s a smart move to say that he is willing to postpone.
“But to be credible, the President really has to be willing to walk away and I’m not sure he is.”