Trump reassures Kim, then warns N. Korea could be 'decimated'

South Korea says military drills will go on

"North Korea is actually talking to us about times and everything else as though nothing happened", he said.

The episode should remind us that, as long as North Korea has nuclear weapons, we are a hair's breadth from nuclear war.

The North Korean statements on Wednesday marked a dramatic reversal in tone from recent months and took USA officials off guard after months of easing tensions.

People watch a TV news report about the meeting between North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and Chinese President Xi Jinping at a railway station in Seoul, South Korea May 8, 2018.

The ultimatum was clear, but Trump's understanding of the history of disarmament in Libya was not.

The US and other nations agreed with Libya in 2003 to remove the Libyan ruler Muammar Gaddafi's nascent nuclear weapons program and his chemical weapons.

"If you look at that model with Gaddafi, that was a total decimation".

The US, along with North Atlantic Treaty Organisation allies, then backed the uprising against him, and attacked Gaddafi's forces, but did not kill Gaddafi.

"We can not let that country have nukes".

Gaddafi died within six months of the USA intervention, but it was his own people who killed him after finding his hideout and dragging him through the streets.

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.

Trump, however, warned that failure to make a deal could have grave consequences for Kim.

Ri Son Gwon, chairman of the Committee for the Peaceful Reunification of the Country of North Korea, was quoted by the Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) as saying that South Korean authorities launched "the extremely adventurous 2018 Max Thunder joint air combat exercises with the U.S. which was aimed at precision strike on key strategic objects of the North Korea and the seizure of the air control".

North Korea had said it would not return to talks with South Korea due to the exercises.

Both Trump and Kim have incentives to keep the summit and peace push on track.

Trump also suggested China was influencing North Korea's thinking regarding the summit, pointing to Kim's visit to China immediately before U.S. Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo visited Pyongyang last week to finalise the summit date and location.

So far, 2018 has been nearly clear of nuclear brinkmanship between Trump and Kim, but Thursday should remind us that as long as North Korea has nuclear weapons, the United States stands a hair's breadth from war.

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