Trump says U.S. doesn’t have Libyan model approach to N.K.

Last Updated May 17, 2018 3:34 PM EDT

President Trump, meeting with NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg at the White House Thursday, said the U.S. is not repeating the “Libyan model” in North Korea, after national security adviser John Bolton suggested such an approach. 

“The Libyan model is not a model that we have at all when we are thinking of North Korea,” the president said Thursday. “In Libya, we decimated that country. That country was decimated.”

Last month, Bolton told CBS News’ “Face the Nation” moderator Margaret Brennan the U.S. was “looking at the Libya model of 2003, 2004,” when Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi agreed to end his nuclear weapons program in exchange for sanctions relief. He was ousted from power and killed in 2011. As CBS News has reported, the U.S. has said it isn’t seeking regime change in North Korea.

But Mr. Trump didn’t rule out such a Libya-like model for the future, if negotiations with North Korea don’t go well.

“But the model, if you look at that model with Gaddafi, that was a total decimation,” Mr. Trump said. “We went in there to beat him. Now, that model would take place if we don’t make a deal, most likely.”

Mr. Trump said his administration have not been notified of any changes to an intended June 12 meeting with the North Koreans in Singapore, after North Korea threatened to cancel its plans with the U.S. North Korea already canceled talks with the South Koreans, after the U.S. and South Korea went ahead with routine military drills. 

“Nothing has changed on North Korea that we know of,” Mr. Trump said.

The president also said the U.S. is willing to offer some security guarantees for North Korea.

“We’re willing to do a lot,” Mr. Trump said. “And he’s willing to, I think, do a lot also. And I think we’ll actually have a good relationship assuming we have the meeting and assuming something comes of it and he’ll get protections that will be very strong. Syria had never had protections. If you look at Syria, if you look at — or if you look anywhere around the Middle East, lraq.”

Stoltenberg’s visit comes after Mr. Trump’s tone with NATO has changed some since before his election. Mr. Trump has been critical of NATO member states, accusing them of not paying their fair share in defense spending. This topic is going to be raised again in the meeting between the two leaders, who are also expected to talk about the NATO summit, and combatting terrorism.

Mr. Trump as president-elect also said NATO was obsolete but backtracked on those comments after taking office, calling NATO “no longer obsolete.” Mr. Trump’s “America First” policy approach has concerned some that he might be giving NATO a backseat. 

Mr. Trump first welcomed Stoltenberg to the White House in April 2017. There is no joint press conference scheduled for Stoltenberg’s visit, as there typically are for such visits and as there was when Stoltenberg visited last year.

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