President Trump has canceled a historic diplomatic summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un on Thursday, citing a recent statement of “tremendous anger and open hostility” from the leader.
“I was very much looking forward to being there with you. 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,” Trump wrote in an open letter to Kim that was released to reporters and shortly after to the public Thursday morning. “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.”
Sadly, I was forced to cancel the Summit Meeting in Singapore with Kim Jong Un. pic.twitter.com/rLwXxBxFKx
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 24, 2018
The meeting, set for June 12 in Singapore, a neutral site, would have marked the first face-to-face encounter between a sitting U.S. President and a North Korean leader. The two leaders were scheduled to discuss Pyongyang’s nuclear and ballistic missile program. North Korea invited the president in March to meet after South Korean officials conveyed communication to which Trump accepted as a way to ease tensions with both nations.
The president decided to cancel the summit following a statement by a North Korean official calling Vice President Mike Pence a “political dummy” as well as warning a nuclear showdown between U.S. and Pyongyang. North Korea took offense to remarks made by Pence on Monday when he likened the communist country to Libya if “Kim Jong Un doesn’t make a deal.”
“There was some talk about the Libyan model last week, and you know, as the President made clear, this will only end like the Libyan model ended if Kim Jong Un doesn’t make a deal,” Pence said on Fox News earlier this week.
The comments from Pence triggered a response from North Korea, calling the Vice President remarks as “ignorant and stupid.”
“As a person involved in the U.S. affairs, I cannot suppress my surprise at such ignorant and stupid remarks gushing out from the mouth of the U.S. Vice-president,” North Korean Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs Choe Son Hui said. “Whether the U.S. will meet us at a meeting room or encounter us at nuclear-to-nuclear showdown is entirely dependent upon the decision and behavior of the United States.”
The cancellation surprised South Korea’s government due to the nation’s president, Moon Jae-in playing a pivotal role in helping to set up the historic diplomatic meeting. Shortly after the letter announcement, Moon and his aides convened in an emergency meeting around midnight in Seoul.
“It is very regretful and disconcerting that the US-NK summit will not happen as planned,” South Korea president wrote in a statement. “Denuclearization and the lasting peace on the Korean peninsula cannot be abandoned or delayed as they are the historical assignment. The sincerity of the affected parties who have been working to resolve the problem has not changed. It is hard to resolve sensitive and difficult diplomatic issues with the current way of communications. We hope that the leaders resolve problems through direct and close dialogue.”
Earlier this week, Trump had met with Moon to discuss the upcoming planned meeting with North Korea. Speaking to reporters, Trump said there’s a “substantial chance” the summit “may not work out.”
Trump also added that the scheduled meeting might not happen if certain conditions weren’t met. However, he said a summit could happen down the road if it doesn’t occur in June as planned.
Last week, North Korea announced it would reconsider whether to hold the meeting after abruptly canceling talks with South Korea amid joint military drills with the U.S. on the Korean Peninsula.
According to a White House senior official, North Korea had suspended direct communication with the U.S. over the past week.
“The United States has over the past week made numerous attempts to communicate with the North Koreans, but they have not responded,” the officials said. “In fact, the first communication we received in a week arrived last night in the form of a propaganda release.”
North Korea issued a statement saying it is still “willing to give the U.S. time and opportunities” to reconsider talks “at any time, at any format.”
Speaking later at a bill signing ceremony, Trump said he would continue “maximum pressure campaign” against North Korea as well as threatened a military response if Kim resumes nuclear activity. However, he said a summit could take place at a “later date” if Kim takes constructive steps towards peace.
“It’s possible that the existing summit could take place, or a summit at some later date,” Trump said. “Nobody should be anxious. We have to get it right.”