The leaders of North and South Korea met for two hours along the border between the countries in the area known as the Demilitarized Zone over the weekend.
The surprise meeting came just 24 hours after U.S. President Donald Trump announced he was terminating a planned summit between he and North Korea’s Leader Kim Jong Un scheduled to take place June 12 in Singapore.
The meeting was to be the first face-to-face meeting between a sitting U.S. president and a leader of the rogue nation. Mr. Trump cancelled the meeting citing the “tremendous anger and open hostility” in a North Korean statement made earlier last week.
“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 Friday 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.”
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 statemen the President alluded to was issued by North Korea earlier in the week 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.
South Korean President Moon Jae-in called an emergency meeting with Kim in the middle of the night in the wake of Trump’s cancellation of the meeting. The two men “exchanged their opinions” on successfully continuing the peace dialogue between Kim and Trump, according to a statement.
After Mr. Trump’s cancellation, the North Korean government emphasized it was still open to meeting with the President, and Mr. Trump seemed to indicate that there was a good chance the summit would still take place.
“Our United States team has arrived in North Korea to make arrangements for the Summit between Kim Jong Un and myself. I truly believe North Korea has brilliant potential and will be a great economic and financial Nation one day. Kim Jong Un agrees with me on this. It will happen!” he tweeted over the weekend.
This morning the White House confirmed that preparations were continuing for the summit as planned. “Since the President’s May 24th letter, the North Koreans have been engaging. The United States continues to actively prepare for President Trump’s expected summit with leader Kim in Singapore,” White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said.
Photo by South Korean Government