Donald Trump says any denuclearisation deal with North Korea would protect Kim Jong-un as the nation’s leader, as the US President maintains their historic meeting will go ahead.
Mr Trump distanced himself from comments made by his national security adviser that prompted threats from Pyongyang to cancel the June 12 summit between the leaders.
The President told reporters in the Oval Office on Friday morning (AEST) that if Mr Kim agrees to denuclearise, he will be offered “protections”.
White House national security adviser John Bolton on Sunday suggested the so-called ‘Libya model’ should be applied to North Korea’s denuclearisation.
Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi was overthrown and ultimately assassinated in 2011 after earlier negotiating the abandonment of his program for weapons of mass destruction.
Mr Trump insisted he was not pursuing the Libya model and instead the US would help Mr Kim rule a more prosperous North Korea.
“He [Mr Kim] would be there, he would be running his country. His country would be very rich,” he said.
“The Libyan model isn’t the model we have at all when we’re thinking of North Korea,” he said.
“When you look at the model, with Gaddafi, that was a total decimation. We went in there to beat him.”
Mr Trump said the Libya model would only come into play if a deal could not be reached with North Korea.
“We cannot let that country have nukes. We just can’t do it,” he said.
Mr Trump said that as far as he is aware, the meeting with Mr Kim in Singapore was going ahead as planned.
“North Korea is actually talking to us about times and everything else as though nothing happened,” he said.
But the President also told reporters that if the meeting with North Korea happens then “it happens” and if not the United States will go on to the “next thing”.
North Korea’s first vice minister of foreign affairs, Kim Kye-gwan, on Wednesday specifically criticised Mr Bolton’s Libya comparison.
“If the US 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 … summit,” he said.
Cancellation of the summit, the first meeting between a serving US president and a North Korean leader, would deal a major blow to what would be the biggest diplomatic achievement of Mr Trump’s presidency.
Mr Trump has raised expectations for success even as many analysts have been sceptical about the chances of bridging the gap because of questions about North Korea’s willingness to give up a nuclear arsenal that it says can hit the US.