Trump cancels summit, citing ‘open hostility’ by North Korea
The Associated Press
In a dramatic diplomatic turn, U.S. President Donald Trump canceled a June 12, 2018, summit with North Korea’s Kim Jong Un , citing the “tremendous anger and open hostility” in a recent statement by the North.
Trump said in a May 24, 2018, letter to Kim released by the White House that, based on the statement, he felt it was “inappropriate, at this time, to have this long-planned meeting.” In the Korean statement that Trump cited, the North referred to U.S. Vice President Mike Pence as a “political dummy” for his comments on the North and said it was just as ready to meet in a nuclear confrontation as at the negotiating table.
Trump said in his letter: “If you change your mind having to do with this most important summit, please do not hesitate to call me or write.” (Pictured: U.S. President Donald Trump, left, and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un appear on a television news screen at a Seoul railway station in May 2018.)
He said the world was losing a “great opportunity for lasting peace and great prosperity and wealth” now that their summit has been canceled.
The president had agreed in March 2018 to the historic sit-down after months of trading nuclear threats with the North Korean leader. Following criticism from North Korea, Trump cast doubt on whether the meeting would happen.
A White House official said it was incorrect to focus on the “dummy comments” about Pence. The official said the North Koreans had threatened nuclear war in their statement released the day before Trump canceled, and no summit could be successful under these circumstances.
The official spoke on condition of anonymity.
White House officials have privately predicted for weeks that the summit could be canceled once or twice before actually taking place, owing to the hard-nosed style of the two leaders.
Trump’s allies in Congress applauded the president, saying he was justified in pulling out of the meeting.
“North Korea has a long history of demanding concessions merely to negotiate. While past administrations of both parties have fallen for this ruse, I commend the president for seeing through Kim Jong Un’s fraud,” said U.S. Sen. Tom Cotton, who said the nation’s “maximum-pressure campaign on North Korea must continue.”
In recent months, scoring a diplomatic win with Pyongyang had become Trump’s top focus.
Trump agreed to the proposed meeting, conveyed by South Korean officials, accepting it before consulting with many of his top national security advisors. Some observers raised concerns that Trump was risking legitimizing Kim’s government by agreeing to meet him on the world stage without evidence of denuclearization or other concessions.
In preparation for the summit, North Korea had invited a small group of international media to witness the demolition of tunnels at its Punggye-ri site, which North Korean officials said was proof of its commitment to end nuclear testing. North Korea claimed that location was its only nuclear testing site.
Skeptics, however, remain uncertain as to whether the information from Pyongyang is credible, suggesting that the Punggye-ri site was possibly crumbling and ready for demolition anyway. No verifiable data exists highlighting the extent of North Korea’s nuclear program or just how many testing sites the country may or may not have had.