Washington: US President Donald Trump is willing to meet North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un “under the right circumstances,” the White House has said, asserting that Pyongyang needs to meet a lot of conditions for such a meeting between the two leaders to take place.
“There’s a lot of things that go along with that and that’s the key thing. “Under the right circumstances” was, I believe, the phrase he used. I think that is something in keeping with our consistency with the policy expressed by secretary of state Rex Tillerson as well,” White House press secretary Sean Spicer told reporters at his daily news conference yesterday.
“We’ve got to see their provocative behaviour ratcheted down immediately. There’s a lot of conditions that I think would have to happen with respect to its behaviour and to show signs of good faith,” Spicer said when asked about Trump’s statement in an interview that he is willing to meet the North Korean leader.
“Clearly, conditions are not there right now, but I think the president has made it clear, as secretary Tillerson had the other day, that if the conditions, if the circumstances present themselves we’ll be prepared to, but they’re clearly not at this time,” Spicer said.
Spicer stressed the right circumstances for a meeting between the two leaders do not exist right now.
“If North Korea continues down a degree of provocative behaviour, then those circumstances will never be there,” he said.
“We want to hold out the possibility that if North Korea were ever serious about completely dismantling its nuclear capability and taking away the threat that they pose both to the region and to us that there is always going to be a possibility of that occurring. That possibility is not there at this time,” Spicer said.
Trump, he said, understands the threat North Korea poses.
“Having someone with the potential nuclear capability to strike another country and potentially our country as some point in the future is something the President takes very seriously,” he said.
“So the idea that he is doing everything diplomatically, economically, and militarily to consider every way to prevent that threat from taking on the US is something ” he added.
The White House spokesman also defended the decision of the US president to meet his Philippines counterpart Rodrigo Duterte.
“I think there’s an economic piece to this, as well. That’s part of the reason that I think the president wants to meet with him,” he said.
“I’m not going to get ahead of their discussions. I would suggest that there are multifaceted ways and areas in which not just the Philippines but other countries in the region can help play a role both economically, diplomatically, and otherwise to help deter the threat that they pose,” Spicer said.
The meeting with the Philippines president is also an opportunity to work with countries in that region that can help play a role in diplomatically and economically isolating North Korea.
“And, frankly, the national interest of the United States, the safety of our people and the safety of people in the region are the number-one priorities of the president,” he said.
Spicer refuted allegations that by meeting his counterpart from Philippines, Trump is ignoring human rights concerns.
“The number-one concern of this president is to make sure that we do everything we can to protect our people, and specifically, to economically and diplomatically isolate North Korea,” he said.
“I think when you look at what he is doing in terms of building that coalition of countries in that region to do it, I think this is hopefully going to tell you every single thing that’s in his brief, but he’s well aware of – when he speaks with a leader, he gets briefed on a lot about their – what they’re doing, what they’ve done,” Spicer said.