Trump cancels summit with Kim, North Korea says 'world's desire' that it go on

Trump cancels summit with Kim, North Korea says 'world's desire' that it go on
Pres. Donald Trump comments on the cancellation of the summit with North Korea on Thursday. (Source: CNN)
Pres. Donald Trump comments on the cancellation of the summit with North Korea on Thursday. (Source: CNN)

(RNN) - President Donald Trump cancelled a summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un in Singapore that was supposed to take place on June 12.

Hours later, North Korea's first vice foreign minister, Kim Gye Gwan, issued a statement saying the North remained ready for talks "at any time" according to The Washington Post.

In remarks Thursday morning Trump said the U.S. military is "ready if necessary" for any "foolish acts" and that a "maximum pressure campaign will continue."

"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," according to a statement released by the White House.

The North's later statement called the decision "unexpected" and "very regrettable" according to the Associated Press.

But Trump still offered a glimmer of hope for talks between the two countries.

"If you change your mind having to do with this most important summit, please do not hesitate to call me or write. The world, and North Korea in particular, has lost a great opportunity for lasting peace and great prosperity and wealth. This missed opportunity is a truly sad moment in history," the statement said.

The North's statement later also said salvaging the summit was the "world's desire."  The AP said the statement added that the North is "willing to give the U.S. time and opportunities" to come back to the table.

"Leader Kim Jong Un had focused every effort on his meeting with President Trump," Kim Gye Gwan said in his statement, the Post reported.

The summit had been endangered recently because of rhetoric on both sides, with a top North Korean official calling Vice President Mike Pence a "political dummy," the Associated Press reported.

Choe Son Hui, another vice minister of foreign affairs, slammed on Thursday comments Pence made as "ignorant" and "stupid" that compared the country to Libya in an interview with Fox News, the Associated Press reported.

The insult came on the heels of John Bolton, the new national security adviser, saying the two sides had grown further apart.

North Korea rebuked Bolton who said on that the U.S. was using the "Libya model" as it sought to denuclearize North Korea.

"We have very much in mind the Libya model from 2003, 2004," Bolton said on Fox News on April 29.

The North African nation voluntarily gave up its nuclear weapons program in 2003, but it was the result of pressure from the West.

The United States and Europe later helped topple the regime of Muammar Gaddafi in 2011 by militarily backing rebel groups during the country's civil war.

Libyans killed Gaddafi themselves amid the unrest. He was beaten to death while someone videotaped.

The summit cancellation seemed to surprise South Korea. "We are attempting to make sense of what, precisely, President Trump means," spokesman Kim Eui-kyeom said, the Washington Post reported.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said on Thursday in a Capitol Hill meeting that the U.S. received no responses from North Korea to outreach on Singapore summit planning.

He didn't respond when asked if the U.S. warned South Korea and Japan that Trump was backing out of the summit.

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer said more diplomacy needs to happen before any meeting takes place.

"Many of us feared that the summit ... would be a great show that produced nothing enduring. If a summit is to be reconstituted, the U.S. must show strength and achieve a concrete, verifiable, enduring elimination of Kim Jong Un's nuclear capabilities," he said.

The cancellation comes despite the groundwork done by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, who visited North Korea on at least two known occasions to set the stage for the meeting.

Pompeo visited the country on May 8 and returned the following day with three American hostages held in the country. Trump greeted them with cameras rolling.

Trump originally agreed in March to meet with Kim to discuss denuclearization.

The administration announced the summit after a White House briefing by South Korean National Security Adviser Chung Eui-yong that included an invitation from Kim.

"President Trump appreciated the briefing and said he would meet Kim Jong Un by May to achieve permanent denuclearization," Chung said outside the West Wing. "He (Kim) expressed his eagerness to meet President Trump as soon as possible."

The White House also produced challenge coins for the now-cancelled summit, NPR reported.

A group of 19 Congressmen submitted Trump's nomination for the Nobel Peace Prize based on Trump's diplomacy with North Korea.

Experts were critical of the summit, saying it gave North Korea what it wanted, legitimacy, without getting much in return. No sitting president has ever met with a North Korean leader.

Political science expert Robert E. Kelly, known as the BBC dad from when his children interrupted a videocast in 2017, said in a tweet, "The summit itself strikes me as a huge concession, & NK gave up nothing deep value to it, like some basic stockpile data, e.g."

In April, Kim met with South Korean leader Moon Jae-in. They signed an agreement, announcing they would work to formally end the Korea conflict 65 years after the end of fighting, CNN reported.

The statement cancelling the summit came hours after North Korea claimed to have dismantled its only known nuclear test site with many international reporters present.

The reporters were still in the country when the White House announced the summit was cancelled.

The test site at Punggye-ri consisted of four main tunnels beneath mountains in the northeast part of the country. North Korea used the site for at least six of its nuclear tests.

International observers said decommissioning the site was an important gesture but would not affect North Korea's existing arsenal of weapons.

The North has made rapid progress in its drive for nuclear arms in the last few years. The country has conducted six confirmed nuclear tests since 2006, half of them since 2016.

Last year the North conducted its first successful test of an intercontinental ballistic missile. In November it tested a missile, the Hwasong-15, believed to be capable of hitting anywhere on the U.S. mainland.

The North still needs to perfect the process of producing nuclear warheads small enough to fit onto missiles.

In January, the then-CIA Director Pompeo predicted it would take North Korea just "a handful of months" to achieve that and have the capability of striking the U.S. with nuclear weapons.

The relationship between Trump and Kim has had its rhetorical ups and down, spiked with compliments and insults.

Last year, Trump shocked people by calling Kim "rocket man" in response to a nuclear missile test. The dictator referred to Trump last year as a "dotard."

Trump changed his tune in April, calling Kim, who is responsible for human rights abuses in his country, "very honorable."

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