Trump: We’re Not Looking at ‘Libya Model’ For North Korea, But a Deal That Would See Kim Jong Un ‘Running His Country’

Patrick Goodenough | May 17, 2018 | 8:48pm EDT
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A photo carried by a regime propaganda site shows Kim Jong-un during his meeting in Pyongyang last week with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. (Photo: Uriminzokkiri)

( – Any denuclearization deal the United States strikes with North Korea will differ from the disarmament of Libya 14 years ago because it would entail Kim Jong Un remaining in power, and presiding over a country enriched as a result of the agreement, President Trump said Thursday.

Speaking to reporters alongside NATO secretary-general Jens Stoltenberg, Trump said the so-called “Libya model” was not under consideration with North Korea since the agreement with Libya did not include security guarantees for Muammar Gaddafi.

“There was no deal to keep Gaddafi” and the country was “decimated,” he said, in reference to the 2011 NATO airstrike campaign that helped bring an end to the Libyan dictator’s four-decade rule. Seven years earlier, Gaddafi had agreed to relinquish his nuclear, biological and chemical weapons programs.

Trump said that an envisaged deal with Kim Jong Un would be “something where he’d be there, he’d be in his country, he'd be running his country, his country would be very rich.”

He pointed to South Korea as a model, describing Koreans as “hardworking” and “tremendously industrious.”

North Korea this week raised doubts about a planned summit next month between Trump and Kim Jong Un, and among other issues expressed anger at suggestions – by National Security Advisor John Bolton – that a Libya model may be followed in North Korean denuclearization talks.

Bolton’s references in media interviews to a Libya model have related not to Gaddafi’s ultimate fate, but to technical details of a disarmament deal. He pointed for example to the total access Gaddafi had given to Western officials, and to the fact that his WMD programs were shipped in their entirety to the U.S.

Still, the Libya talk angered Pyongyang, where a senior foreign ministry official on Wednesday spoke of “sinister moves to impose on our dignified state the destiny of Libya” – a country which had collapsed, he said, as a result of “yielding” to “big powers.”

Despite the apparent setback, Trump said Thursday preparations for the summit were continuing, and that “if the meeting happens, it happens.”

“And if it doesn’t,” he added, “we go on to the next step.”

Trump also suggested that the absence of a denuclearization agreement with North Korea would be more likely to result in the end of Kim Jong Un’s regime.

“If you look at that model with Gaddafi, that was a total decimation. We went in there to beat him,” he said. “Now that model would take place if we don’t make a deal, most likely. But if we make a deal, I think Kim Jong Un is going to be very, very happy.”

The North Korean regime views U.S. treaty alliances with South Korea and Japan as an implicit threat to its survival, and for decades has made its willingness to negotiate on its nuclear programs contingent on “security guarantees” from the U.S.

Trump said that if the summit does go ahead, “I think we’ll actually have a good relationship,” and Kim Jong Un will “get protections that would be very strong.”

Asked whether reducing the numbers of U.S. military personnel stationed in South Korea was a possibility, Trump said, “I’m not going to talk about that.”

“We’re going to say that [Kim Jong Un] will have very adequate protection, and we’ll see how it all turns out,” he continued. “I think this: The best thing he could ever do is to make a deal.”

North Korea this week canceled planned talks with South Korean officials, citing ongoing U.S.-South Korean joint military exercises.

A propaganda website on Thursday ran a commentary saying that dialogue and wargames – which it described as “a rehearsal for invasion of the North” – could not exist side by side.

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