TOKYO (AP) - North Korea has a message for President Donald Trump ahead of next month’s summit: Don’t listen to your new hard-line national security adviser, John Bolton.
After announcing early Wednesday that it was pulling out of high-level talks with Seoul because of a new round of U.S.-South Korea military exercises, the North took aim at Bolton and said it might have to reconsider whether to proceed with the summit between Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un because it doubts how seriously Washington actually wants peaceful dialogue.
The moves give the clearest indication yet of Pyongyang’s mindset heading into the summit, scheduled for June 12 in Singapore.
Though North Korea has been for the most part silent about its intentions for the meeting, the announcements underscore two of its biggest concerns - the future of the nearly 30,000 U.S. troops in South Korea and claims coming out of Washington lately that sanctions and Trump’s “maximum pressure” policy are what drove Kim to the negotiating table.
But defanging Bolton, the most militant of Trump’s advisers, is now also apparently a major priority.
“We do not hide our feeling of repugnance toward him,” the North said of Bolton in a statement attributed by state-run media to senior Foreign Ministry official Kim Kye Gwan.
A hard-liner’s hard-liner, Bolton was a key adviser to President George W. Bush when the U.S. tore up a nuclear agreement with Pyongyang in 2002. North Korea conducted its first nuclear test four years later. In August, Bolton defended the idea of a preventive military strike against the North, and last month suggested negotiations in 2004 that led to the shipping of nuclear components to the U.S. from Libya under Moammar Ghadafi would be a good model for North Korea as well.
Not surprisingly, Pyongyang bristles at the mention of Libya.
Ghadafi, who agreed to abandon his fledgling nuclear program, was later deposed after a 42-year reign and was killed in 2011 - the year Kim assumed power in North Korea - while his country spiraled into chaos....The North’s statement Wednesday did not directly criticize Trump, or Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, who has made two trips to North Korea to lay the groundwork for the summit. Instead, it stressed that Pyongyang welcomes Trump’s position for ending the deep-rooted hostilities between their countries and concluded that if the Trump administration approaches the summit with a sincere desire to improve relations, the result will be positive.It warned, however, of a “ridiculous comedy” if Trump listens to Bolton and “quasi-patriots” who insist on “abandoning nuclear weapons first, compensating afterward.”“We have already stated our intention for denuclearization of the