Trump's lawyer claims Kim Jong-un had to 'beg on hands and knees' to get summit with US
When the White House confirmed Donald Trump's planned summit with North Korea back in March 2018, we all had a feeling that it was going to be a rocky ride. And we were completely right: the whole thing has been a rollercoaster - and we haven't even gotten to the meeting part yet.
The latest twist in our story? Trump's lawyer has risked jeopardising the historic conference by boasting that Kim-Jong-un "begged" to reschedule the high-profile June 12 summit after the president called it off.
At an event in Tel Aviv on Wednesday, former New York City mayor, Rudy Giuliani, claimed: "Kim Jong-un got back on his hands and knees and begged for it, which is exactly the position you want to put him in".
There has not been an official response to Giuliani's statement from North Korea. However, his words are expected to be met with fireworks. Last time an American official spoke out of turn - when Vice President Mike Pence stated that North Korea "may end like Libya" - relations between the two countries rapidly deteriorated, with senior official Choe Son-hui warning of a "nuclear showdown" if diplomacy failed.
Nonetheless, Trump's lawyer - who serves as his legal representative in the Russian investigation - has insisted that his comments were called for, saying Jong-un must understand that the US is in a position of strength. He told Associated Press in an interview afterwards: "It is pointing out that the president is the stronger figure. And you’re not going to have useful negotiations unless he accepts that." He also noted that he was sharing a personal opinion and was not part of the US foreign policy team.
However, former diplomats have dismissed Giuliani's opinion on the matter, asserting that his remarks have put the rapprochement in danger. Evans JR Revere, a former State Department diplomat and North Korea specialist, told the New York Times: "If the North Koreans needed a reason to cancel the meeting, the Americans just gave it to them."
Jan Eliasson, the former deputy secretary-general of the UN and foreign minister of Sweden, agreed, claiming the lawyer's comment "certainly does not improve the prospects for the Singapore meeting". As it stands, the summit is scheduled to go ahead on Singapore's resort island of Sentosa, with the two leaders scheduled to meet at 9am Singapore time.
Trump infamously cancelled the meeting on May 24, with a bizarre letter that blamed "tremendous anger and open hostility" from the North. "I was very much looking forward to being there with you," he wrote. "Sadly, based on the tremendous anger and open hostility displayed in your most recent statement, I feel it is inappropriate, at this, time to have this long-planned meeting. Therefore, please let this letter serve to represent that the Singapore summit, for the good of both parties, but to the detriment of the world, will not take place."
However, the president backtracked days later, announcing to reports at the White House that it would go ahead as planned after he met with Jong-un's top aide, Kim Yong-chol, in the Oval Office.
"The big deal will be on June 12," he said. "It’s a process, we're not going to go in and sign something on June 12 and we never were. We are going to start a process. And I told them today: take your time. We can go fast, we can go slowly. I think they’d like to see something happen and if we can work something out that will be good."
So, will they or won't they meet? Watch this space.