Resident Trump pulled out of his planned summit with North Korea’s Kim Jong Un, citing the country’s “tremendous anger and open hostility” — and ominously warning that the U.S. military “is ready, if necessary.”
Trump said in a letter to Kim released Thursday by the White House that based on recent statements made by North Korea, he felt it was “inappropriate, at this time, to have this long-planned meeting.”
“I felt a wonderful dialogue was building up between you and me, and ultimately, it is only that dialogue that matters,” Trump wrote to Kim. “Some day, I look very much forward to meeting you.”
The summit was planned for June 12 in Singapore. It would have been the first meeting between a sitting U.S. President and a North Korean leader.
A defiant statement by a top Foreign Ministry official calling Vice President Pence a “political dummy” and threatening a nuclear confrontation was the final straw for the Trump administration.
“We will neither beg the U.S. for dialogue nor take the trouble to persuade them if they do not want to sit together with us,” North Korean state media quoted the official as saying. “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.”
Russian President Vladimir Putin jumped into the fray, siding with North Korea.
Kim “did everything that he had promised in advance, even blowing up the tunnels and shafts” of the country’s nuclear testing site, Putin said.
Trump responded in kind on Thursday.
He said that North Koreans can talk about their nuclear capabilities, “but ours are so massive and powerful that I pray to God they will never have to be used.”
South Korean President Moon Jae-in, who had pushed for the meeting, appeared to be blindsided by Trump’s announcement and said he was “perplexed” by the development. “After which, we heard about cancellation of the summit by the United States.”
The initial reaction from the North was mild.
Vice Foreign Minister Kim Kye Gwan said North Korea was still willing to sit down for talks with the U.S. “at any time, at any format.” Via state media, he said Trump’s decision was “very regrettable” and showed “how urgently a summit should be realized to improve ties.”
Pentagon officials said American forces on the peninsula remain on a normal state of alert.