China Tells Trump to Stay Calm as North Korea Threatens to Cancel Historic Talks

China’s Foreign Minister Wang Yi is urging President Donald Trump to remain calm as North Korean leader Kim Jong Un casts uncertainty over whether he will meet with the U.S. to discuss Pyongyang’s nuclear program.  

The two leaders are expected to meet in Singapore on June 12 for historic negotiations. But on Tuesday Kim threatened to pull out of the planned meeting with Washington. North Korean vice minister of foreign affairs Kim Kye Gwan released a statement taking a direct swing at Trump’s national security adviser, John Bolton, who had suggested that North Korea should be treated like Libya.

“High-ranking officials in 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…This is not an expression of intention to address the issue through dialogue. It is essentially a manifestation of awfully sinister move to impose on our dignified state the destiny of Libya or Iraq which had been collapsed due to yielding the whole of their countries to big powers,” the statement from North Korea reads.

According to the statement, “It is absolutely absurd to dare compare the DPRK [North Korea], a nuclear weapon state, to Libya which had been at the initial stage of nuclear development...We shed light on the quality of Bolton already in the past, and we do not hide our feelings of repugnance toward him.” 

The statement came after Bolton suggested in several public interviews that North Korea should give up its weapons the way Libya did in 2003. Bolton never said publicly that the U.S. should promote regime change in North Korea, but U.S.-allied rebels killed former Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi in 2011. Gaddafi's demise is widely viewed as a symbol of the vulnerability leaders could face if they give up their nuclear weapons, and North Korea appears determined to assure the world that its leader will not suffer a similar fate.

Meanwhile, North Korea’s leadership is also unhappy that the U.S. and South Korea are continuing to stage joint air force drills.

It is unclear whether Pyongyang is serious about canceling the meeting with Trump or if the country’s leadership is just trying to strengthen its position in the upcoming negotiations. Nevertheless, other world leaders are worried that Trump’s characteristic impulsivity could derail the entire endeavor.

During a trip to Paris this week, China’s Wang Yi stressed that North Korea’s efforts to reduce tension on the Korean peninsula should be acknowledged.

“All parties, especially the United States, should cherish this opportunity for peace and should not work as a barrier,” he said.

So far, Trump has refrained from making any bold statements about North Korea's threat to cancel the meeting in Singapore. During a press conference Wednesday with the President of Uzbekistan, reporters lobbed questions about the upcoming North Korea summit, to which the President responded that "we haven't seen anything, we haven't heard anything. We will see what happens."