May 16, 2018, 12:54 PM ET

'We’ll see': Trump responds to North Korea's threats to cancel summit

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The White House said Wednesday that it "fully expected" threats by North Korea to potentially cancel Kim Jong Un's meeting with President Donald Trump. In a series of statements this week, the country's state media agency said Kim was considering pulling out of the summit due to joint air force drills taking place in South Korea.

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“This is something that we fully expected,” press secretary Sarah Sanders told reporters at the White House today. “The president is very used to being ready for tough negotiations and if they want to meet, we’ll be ready, and if they don’t, that’s okay, too."

Hours later, President Trump reacted to the statements for the first time when pressed by reporters in an Oval Office meeting alongside Uzbekistan President Shavkat Mirziyoyev.

“We haven't been notified at all," Trump said. "We'll have to see. We haven't seen anything, we haven't heard anything. We will see what happens.”

North Korea's announcement, issued Tuesday evening by state news organization KCNA, appeared to catch the State Department off guard, with spokesperson Heather Nauert telling reporters the U.S. had not heard from North Korea directly before the announcement.

Earlier Wednesday, Sanders clarified the administration's plan if the summit were to be canceled.

"We’re going to continue with the campaign of maximum pressure if that’s the case," Sanders said. "But like I said if they want to meet, the president will certainly be ready and we’ll be prepared. If not, that’s okay.”

Sanders also appeared to distance the Trump administration from comments its national security adviser, John Bolton, made this past Sunday regarding the denuclearization model being pursued on the Korean peninsula.

Bolton has repeatedly said that the administration plans to pursue "the Libya model," which calls for a strict monitoring and inspection plan to ensure North Korea has denuclearized.

North Korea's first vice minister for foreign affairs, Kim Kye Gwan, directly criticized the model in a lengthy statement Wednesday night, accusing U.S. officials of "provoking" the country with "unbridled remarks."

"High-ranking officials of the White House and the Department of State including Bolton, White House national security adviser, are letting loose the assertions of so-called Libya mode of nuclear abandonment," the statement read.

"The U.S. is miscalculating the magnanimity and broad-minded initiatives of the DPRK as signs of weakness and trying to embellish and advertise as if these are the product of its sanctions and pressure," the statement added. "It is ridiculous comedy to see the Trump administration, claiming to take a different road from the previous administration, still clings to the outdated policy on the DPRK."

Sanders told reporters gathered in the North Lawn driveway at the White House Wednesday that the Libya model is not a part of any administration policy she’s aware of.

“I haven’t seen that as part of any discussions, I’m not aware that that’s a model that we’re using,” Sanders said. “Again, this is the President Trump model. He’s gonna run this the way he sees fit. We’re 100 percent confident -- as we’ve said many times before, as you all know, you’re aware -- he’s the best negotiator, and we’re very confident in that.”

The episode has drawn parallels to the breakdown in the Bush Administration's nuclear negotiations with North Korea in 2008. At the time, Kim's father, Kim Jong Il, balked at requests for a strict inspections program similar to what President George W. Bush had utilized to eliminate Libya's nuclear program in 2003 and 2004.

"There’s not a cookie-cutter model on how this works," Sanders said in response to Bolton's championing of that model.

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  • Thomas

    This should be settled by South and North Korea

  • brian nrndss

    truth of the matter is, i would not like to see military action when we are trying to make peace...................no not a fan of panda snuff out .5 brother

  • NonIllegitimusCarborundum

    Guess Bolton just stuck his head on the chopping block

  • jake

    Trump has done everything he can to erase everything Obama but one thing he can't take away from Obama is his Nobel Peace Prize. That's why Trump is having his sycophants chant "Nobel! Nobel!" at his rallies. Trump needs a Nobel Peace Prize or Obama will have bested him and he can't deal with that. Thing is, Trump's sycophants don't vote who gets the prize - only Norwegians get to vote. Sorry Donny! Norway will never give you a Peace Prize.

  • ianemdee

    Barney Fife: "We'll have to see. We haven't seen anything, we haven't heard anything. We will see what happens.”

  • Conscience_of_a_conservative

    trump says "we'll see"a lot. its as if he doesn't know and he's one of the parties

  • unusual

    Sarah's right - this is something we all expected. As far as "we'll see" goes - I think we've already seen. Trump is nothing more than a blowhard bully who issues meaningless threats and then turns around and runs away when he has to either put up or shut up. After all his talk about putting America first, he now wants to focus on putting China first because that will benefit him. China and North Korea are playing him and he either doesn't see it or he doesn't care. As long as it helps him, it doesn't matter what it does to America.

  • Hugh Mungus

    Trump is holding all the cards on this one
    Lets see what Democrat Darling Kim does in the next week

  • Citizen123

    Trump's bottom line is his ego and bank account. If either or both boxes get checked he'll cut a deal with N. Korea at any cost to the United States.

  • Bree Zee

    "This is Trump's model."

    Heaven help us if Trump actually has anything to do with the actual negotiation. Listen to him speak. He can't put together two coherent thoughts on his own and if not STRICTLY scripted sounds like my drunk uncle at a crawfish boil. Even when scripted he sounds a little like my drunk uncle but my uncle usually has a point - you just have to wait for it. With Trump, not so much.

  • Verity Pendelton

    This is all Obama's fault. If he hadn't told Trump to not negotiate with Kim, Trump wouldn't have been so he[[ bent on doing so!!! Now he has Korean kimchi on his face.

  • Going Strong

    I have a suggestion for Trump the Pitiful, one that will save wear and tear on his vocal cords:

    Have a digital voice recorder - create the phrase "We'll See What Happens" - and simply push the "Play" button whenever he's asked a question. After all, it's his standard reply!

  • TexasVulcan

    "We'll see" is Trump code for "How the he!! do I know? Who knew foreign relations could be so complicated?"

  • RockyFjord

    Bolton screwed the pooch. And having an Air Force drill just before negotiations were to begin, was a really indiscreet action, which someone with common sense should have seen.

  • george

    Without the summit who wins here? Firstly Kim Jong Un controls the press in his country so he can say that he has shown good faith to the USA (releasing prisoners, meeting SK etc), and the USA are either going back on their word or want to have one sided talks without any concessions. Therefore, it reinforces his claim that an attack is likely from the outside world and there is a threat to NK. The world is becoming more volatile (Israel, Iran) the last thing needed is another conflict. Out of interest where did Mr T's nomination for the Nobel peace prize come from, he has not done anything except contributed to more unrest in the world?

  • Pat Dunne

    The USA doesn't have any diplomats any longer just people like Bolton .

  • ToothyGrinn

    We all knew Trump would mess this up.

  • Bud Simpson

    'We’ll see': Trump responds

    Duh, no kidding!

  • dottycharlesbanks

    President Obama in his conversations with Trump, prior his taking office, was told to be aware of Kim Jung Un, because he will be one of Trump's biggest headaches. Besides what Obama stated verbally, Trump had access to information that would give full insight about Jung. Contrary to what the media and pundits are declaring with bullhorns, Obama put the elder and young dictators feet to the fire, addressing human rights issues in addition to denuclearization.

    Former President Obama dealt with Kim Jung's father until he died in 2012, after which he began dealing with Kim Jung. He sought national recognition and legitimization but Obama would not make that dream come true. He did not get into a twitter war of words with Kim Jung, who did every thing he could to get President Obama's attention.

    North Korean leaders have never vowed to, or stated they would occur with denuclearization. That was the biggest obstacle former presidents had when dealing with North Korea. Nuclear weapons affirms North Korea's independence and bargaining power. Not even citizens of North Korea are ready to relinquish either to America. All prior presidents used heavy sanctions to threatened North Korea's but none of it worked.

    Trump still has time to read about the North Korea and Kim Jung. Educating himself will help him better understand that negotiating peace is not a few pleasant words of flattery, a hand shake and photo op. Negotiating peace will take years to achieve. Trump needs to get out his mind that he going to receive the Nobel Peace Prize by merely having a meeting with Kim Jung.

  • CivilDialog

    President Trump has said ALL ALONG, that if they meet great, if they don't then sanctions will stay in place...He hasn't asked for a thing, yet received so much already...It is up to Kim Jong Un....Does he want to have peace, war or his country in ruins?!? President Trump is handling this quite well and has kept his mind open to negotiations, but NEVER once said anything less than complete denuclearization of the Korean peninsula was going to be acceptable!! MSM and Liberals can't help themselves in lying yet again...It is so sad...

  • mrphilbert

    There needs to be a nobel prize for dunce. Win it and wear it proudly donald.

  • ogrot

    NK's threats to walk away from the summit are attempts to feel out how desperate the Trump administration is to make the summit happen. And I'm sure they are figuring out that is exactly as President Xi told them. Trump is shopping at the grocery store while hungry and he'll buy at almost any price. I find it very unlikely there will be anything other than token deals that give the Chinese the cover to relieve there end of the sanctions.

  • mrphilbert

    Drumpf agrees to meet with un whos biggest fear is being forced out by regime change then he appoints the biggest regime change hawk (bolton) on the planet. Two extremely paranoid narcissists trying to outdo each other. What could possibly go wrong.

  • Forward forward

    If Trump is dumb enough, they still might meet. I suspect Kim has President Dotard pretty well figured out. All he has to do is tell Donald that he is smart and pretty, and Trump will do whatever he asks. Heck, if he compliments Trump on the size of his hands, I bet Trump would let Kim have some of our nukes.

  • Forward forward

    Did anybody outside of the Trump administration NOT see this coming? I doubt it.

  • James Cameron

    How's that Nobel Prize coming along, Trump? Solve the North Korea crisis completely by yourself yet?

  • mtntrek3

    Well, Un must disarm, he won't go for it. No deal. Sad that NK's people and people under dictatorial rule elsewhere must suffer so... .

  • UnaMas85

    “The president is very used to being ready for tough negotiations and if they want to meet, we’ll be ready, and if they don’t, that’s okay, too."

    OMG! Sanders doesn't seem to understand that if this "tough negotiator" fails people could die. There is no, "That's OK too." Daddy's money isn't going to save the world.

  • Scott Glover

    Kim Jong Un playing Trump like a fiddle!

  • MS2789

    Trump has no idea what he's doing, period.
    He can't even keep his lies straight.

  • snakeice64

    It's funny when Trump gives what he thinks is a presidential look and answer.

  • Pat Baxter

    Thankfully, Trump's wicked mouth didn't get us all killed before these recent developments could happen. It is essential to keep in mind that the unified team of South Korea and North Korea competed under the title "Korea" at the PyeongChang 2018 Olympic Games. At the 2018 Winter Olympics, the delegations from both the host nation South Korea and North Korea marched together in the opening ceremony under the Korean Unification Flag. The fervent hope was that the PyeongChang 2018 Olympics could be the start of something good for the Koreas. Trump's trashy, offensive, bellicose mouth is, thankfully, entirely immaterial. Now if Trump can keep his nasty yapper shut for a change............."we'll see...."

  • Stephen Bishop

    i.e., beats me!

  • Tim Coolio

    LOL, Kim dashes his chances for a Nobel!

  • Jen Bordon

    Our corrupt, lying, slimeball president doesn't have the moral authority
    to tell NK anything.

  • Dale Stein

    We see'd!

  • writergal

    Ah, the classic answer you give when you have no answer prepared. "We'll see."

  • äskew

    Mr. Trump, will you finish out your term?
    "We'll see"

  • Dave

    Donald Trump is like a parrot. Somebody taught him we'll see and that is his standard answer for most questions. This pretty much sums up his vocabulary skills. As far as Sarah Sandars saying we expected this is a total lie. They were blindsided by it, Unfortunately, Kim will never give up his nuclear weapons. As usual, Trump is trying to be a hero.

  • tet1953

    We'll see what happens in the next period of time.

  • Treblig56

    We'll see : Trumpism meaning "I have no clue what to do next and I am waiting for someone to at least give me the jist of what the issue of [insert Issue here] is about.

  • ROBOTIX JONES

    Trump's hire of Bolton may have doomed this from the beginning. Bolton has a history of being an extreme warhawk and North Korea knows it.

  • Sharon Bear

    President Trump talks about what he wants, BUT what he dose not mention or even think about is "What The People want". meaning us People of the UNITED STATES......

  • southwestfan

    Mr Trump what is your current policy on NK?
    It is a tremendous policy, the best policy. The previous administration's policy was terrible. But this new policy is tremendous, really tremendous.

    Mr Trump what do you think of Kim Jong Un's statement?
    He is a crazy rocket man who I have come to love and respect how generous he was to release those hostages. Obama couldnt do it, but I got it done. Did you see me up at 3am welcoming them?

    Mr Trump, do you think NK peninsula should held to total denuclearization?
    Totally totally total. When we denuclearize them, they will be denuclearized more than they have ever been before. More denuclearization than any previous president was able to denuclearize.

    Mr Trump, now that NK is threatening pulling out of talks what will you do?
    We'll see. Everyone is saying that I should have a clue what I am talking about, but we will see.

  • AlexaGuyer

    Trump is under the impression that the American citizen is a child. We don't want to hear 'we'll see' or 'clearly', be a man and answer questions definitively.

  • ruelph

    To Two Cents, I love your new twist to 'The Devil Went Down to Georgia' before it got deleted.

  • jon rhodes

    Trump told us that "we'll see." What he means is that he'll decide what to do just as soon as Fox and Friends signs off the air and he can take their sound advice and act accordingly.