Washington (CNN)The historic diplomatic encounter planned for three weeks from now between President Donald Trump and North Korean despot Kim Jong Un appeared in doubt on Tuesday as Trump questioned whether preparations could be completed in time.
“There’s a very substantial chance that it won’t work out,” Trump said in the Oval Office, where he was sitting for critical talks with his South Korean counterpart. “That doesn’t mean that it won’t work out over a period of time, but it may not work out for June 12.”
It was the clearest indication to date that the audacious summit Trump agreed to in March may be at risk. Last week, North Korea adopted a harsh new tone and threatened to withdraw from the meeting, which is due to occur in Singapore.
Trump said preparations were “moving along” for the talks with Kim, but suggested there may not be enough time for the two sides to agree on mutually agreeable parameters.
“We’ll see what happens,” Trump said. “If it doesn’t happen, maybe it’ll happen later. Maybe it’ll happen at a different time. But we are talking.”
In his meetings Tuesday with South Korean President Moon Jae-in, Trump hoped to gain clarity on North Korea’s nuclear intentions. Moon, meanwhile, was hoping to shore up confidence for the Kim meeting, which he helped to broker.
Some US officials believe Moon oversold Pyongyang’s promises when his government relayed Kim’s invitation to Trump for talks in March. At the time his envoy said North Korea was “committed to denuclearization,” but recent statements from the North have cast doubts on Kim’s willingness to negotiate away his nuclear weapons.
That, in turn, has led to skepticism the summit between Trump and Kim will proceed. White House aides have grown pessimistic in recent days that the talks will occur, even as Trump has shown few signs he’s ready to withdraw.