White House counselor Kellyanne Conway said Wednesday that National Security Adviser John R. Bolton has not been sidelined in the preparations for next week’s denuclearization summit.
“He’s going to Singapore,” Ms. Conway told reporters at a breakfast hosted by the Christian Science Monitor. “Secretary of State [Mike] Pompeo has clearly taken the lead. But the national security adviser is going.”
Press reports speculated that President Trump had pushed Mr. Bolton to the side in the negotiations after the national security adviser didn’t attend an Oval Office meeting last week with North Korea’s vice chairman, Kim Yong-chol. The president and Mr. Pompeo met for more than 90 minutes with North Korea’s second-ranking official before announcing that the summit was back on track for next Tuesday.
Mr. Bolton seemingly angered North Korean officials last month by referring to the so-called “Libya model” for getting rid of a country’s nuclear weapons. Pyongyang dislikes the comparison because Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi was eventually overthrown and killed after the U.S. compelled him to abandon his nuclear weapons.
Ms. Conway said the president has been prepping “extensively” for the high-stakes talks with Mr. Kim.
“He’s being briefed and prepared in many different ways,” she said. “And it’s not just this week. It’s been several weeks. It is not on the fly. This is structured, it is extensive, at this point it is intense. This president has made very clear there could be more than one meeting, more than one conversation. The goal here is a very big one, which is the denuclearization of the Korean peninsula.”