- The Washington Times - Wednesday, May 16, 2018

White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said Wednesday that the administration is still hopeful that meeting between President Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un will take place.

“We’re ready to meet and if it happens, that’s great. And if it doesn’t, we’ll see what happens,” Mrs. Sanders said on Fox News.

North Korea threatened to pull out of the upcoming meeting on June 12 after the U.S. participated in a joint military drill with South Korea. Mr. Kim suspended talks with South Korea already.

In a harsher statement Wednesday, Kim Kye-gwan, North Korea’s first vice minister of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, said the U.S. position of unilateral disarmament is off the table.

“If they try to push us into the corner and force only unilateral nuclear abandonment, we will no longer be interested in that kind of talks and will have to reconsider whether we will accept the upcoming NK-US summit,” he said.

Mrs. Sanders told reporters that North Korea’s reaction was “something that we fully expected.”

“We’ve been prepared that these could be tough negotiations. The president is ready if the meeting takes place and if it doesn’t, we’ll continue the maximum pressure campaign that’s been ongoing,” Mrs. Sanders said.

She said the administration is still preparing for the meeting as planned and that Mr. Trump will be “ready” for the negotiations if they happen.

Mrs. Sanders also addressed leaking inside the White House, saying it should be a fireable offense.

“It’s an honor and a privilege to work for the president and to be part of his administration. And anybody who betrays that, I think is a total and complete coward, and they should be fired,” she said.

“We fired people over leaking before. I have personally fired people over leaking before. And we certainly would be very willing to do so again.”

Dave Boyer contributed to this article.

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