President Trump has cancelled a meeting that was set to take place next month between him and Kim Jong Un, North Korea’s leader. The meeting had been scheduled to take place on June 12 in Singapore.
Citing the “tremendous anger and open hostility” in a recent North Korean statement, the President terminated the summit.
“North Korea has the opportunity to end decades of poverty and oppression by following the path of denuclearization and joining the community of nations,” the President said today from the White House. “And I hope that Kim Jong Un will ultimately do what is right not only for himself, but perhaps most importantly, what’s right for his people who are suffering greatly and needlessly.”
It was to be an historic meeting between the two leaders, one that was to bring about an official end to the Korean War, a 65-year-old conflict.
A White House official said the decision was made after a “trail of broken promises” was left by North Korea over the past week or so that included an objection to planned U.S. military exercises as well as the failure to show up for talks with a U.S. advance team in Singapore last week.
The inability to verify the destruction of a North Korean nuclear site and communications that were unreturned also contributed to the decision, the White House said.
Another factor was a fiery statement issued by North Korea Wednesday insulting Vice President Mike Pence over a comparison of North Korea to Libya. Pence said during an interview that North Korea could follow the “Libya model” for denuclearization. That country gave up its nuclear, chemical and biological weapons programs in 2003-2004.
It was the second instance of such comments by a senior Trump administration official in a week.
The comments are controversial because it was ten years later that Libya’s leader, Muammar Gaddafi, was overthrown and killed in a rebellion. North Korea felt the reference was a veiled threat it would soon meet the same fate.
“We could surmise more than enough what a political dummy [Pence] is as he is trying to compare the DPRK, a nuclear weapon state, to Libya that had simply installed a few items of equipment and fiddled around with them,” the statement read.
“It is to be underlined, however, that in order not to follow in Libya’s footstep, we paid a heavy price to build up our powerful and reliable strength that can defend ourselves and safeguard peace and security in the Korean peninsula and the region.”
“In case the US offends against our goodwill and clings to unlawful and outrageous acts, I will put forward a suggestion to our supreme leadership for reconsidering the DPRK-US summit,” the statement issued by North Korea’s vice-foreign minister Choe Son Hui read.
A statement put out by the North Koreans after President Trump’s announcement reiterated a commitment to a peace process. “However, our goal and will to do everything for peace and stability of the Korean peninsula and the mankind remains unchanged, and we are willing to give time and opportunity to the US, always with a big and open mind,” Kim Kye Gwan, North Korea’s first vice minister of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said.
U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo also reiterated the U.S.’ commitment to future talks with the North Koreans. Pompeo “emphasized that on the US side there is a clear commitment to continue dialogue with North Korea” and expressed the desire to “create conditions for a dialogue with North Korea in the future,” a statement by the U.S. State Department read.
Photo by The White House