A combination photo shows President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un in Washington, DC, May 17, 2018 and in Panmunjom, South Korea, April 27, 2018 respectively.
Kevin Lamarque and Korea Summit Press Pool—Reuters
By Eli Meixler
Updated: May 18, 2018 6:56 AM ET

President Donald Trump sought to preserve an upcoming summit with North Korea Thursday, assuring leader Kim Jong Un that he would retain power if he relinquished North Korea’s nuclear weapons and would not face attempts at regime change.

Speaking with reporters in the Oval Office during a meeting with NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, Trump undercut a more hawkish line taken by his national security advisor, pledging that Kim “will get protections that will be very strong” if he cuts a deal, Reuters reports.

“He’d be in his country and running his country. His country would be very rich,” Trump said.

North Korea threatened to cancel the landmark summit, which is slated for June 12 in Singapore, criticizing it as a “one-sided” affair intended to pressure Pyongyang to hand over its nuclear weapons. In comments to state media, North Korea’s first vice foreign minister also criticized Trump’s new National Security Advisor, John Bolton, who had advocated for a “Libyan model” of nuclear disarmament in exchange for sanctions relief.

North Korea has pointed to the NATO-backed revolution in Libya and the violent death of its former leader Muammar Gadhafi as reasons to retain its nuclear capabilities.

Read more: Why Negotiating With North Korea Was Never Going to Be Easy

“The Libyan model isn’t a model that we have (in mind) at all when we’re thinking of North Korea,” Trump said Thursday, according to Agence-France Presse. But he warned that a Libya-like situation would “most likely” occur should the summit fall through.

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