Donald Trump Cancels Meeting with North Korea's Kim Jong-un

Diplomacy | May 24, 2018, Thursday // 19:09|  views

CNBC - President Donald Trump canceled his historic nuclear summit with Kim Jong Un on Thursday, accusing North Korea of "tremendous anger and open hostility."

The meeting, which would have marked the first face-to-face encounter between a sitting U.S. president and a North Korean leader, was set for June 12 in Singapore.

"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," Trump wrote in a letter to Kim, which was released Thursday morning.

Stocks fell and gold rose after news of the cancellation broke.

Much of the letter was written in seemingly friendly terms, including praise for North Korea's recent release of three American prisoners. In contrast, Trump also appeared to issue a threat that conjured memories of his war of words with Kim last year.

"You talk about your nuclear capabilities, but ours are so massive and powerful that I pray to God they will never have to be used," Trump wrote.

The cancellation appeared to take South Korea's government by surprise. The nation's president, Moon Jae-in, had played a pivotal role in setting up recent diplomatic developments.

A representative of Moon's office said the South Korean administration was "trying to figure out what President Trump's intention is and the exact meaning of it," according to the country's Yonhap News Agency. Moon and his aides convened emergency meetings to address the shock announcement, which broke shortly before midnight in Seoul.

The news came as North Korea made a show of dismantling a nuclear test site, but also on the heels of some sharp words from the North Korean government about America denuclearization demands. Trump's decision also comes more than two weeks after he withdrew the U.S. from the Obama-era Iran nuclear deal, which had lifted sanctions on the Middle Eastern country as long as it limited its nuclear program.

Doubts had grown in recent days about whether Trump's summit with Kim would actually happen. North Korea abruptly canceled talks with South Korea last week out of anger over joint military tests with the U.S. in the Korean peninsula. While Trump had repeatedly played up the historic significance of his planned meeting, he also often leavened his optimism with a cautious "we'll see."

On Tuesday, Trump said there was a "substantial" chance that the meeting might not take place at the planned time and location.

Thursday's development marked yet another dramatic, sudden turnaround in the Trump-Kim saga. Without many details or diplomatic ties established, the president agreed on March 8 to the summit, when South Korean officials told Trump about the North Korean leader's Kim's eagerness to meet.

North Korea took offense to remarks on Tuesday by Vice President Mike Pence that the communist country could end up like Libya if it doesn't make a nuclear deal with Washington.

Before Trump's cancellation, a top North Korean official, Choe Son Hui, lashed out at Pence's remarks.

"As a person involved in U.S. affairs, I cannot suppress my surprise at such ignorant and stupid remarks gushing from the mouth of the U.S. vice president," Choe said, according to KCNA.

The vice president's comments also echoed those of Trump's national security advisor, John Bolton, who had suggested the U.S. could pursue a Libya-style denuclearization plan with North Korea. Years after that nuclear deal, Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi was overthrown and slain, a move the U.S. supported. North Korea's Kim is concerned about regime change.

Trump's cancellation earned quick praise from Republican lawmakers. Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., said in a tweet that the president's move was "100% the right decision."

House Speaker Paul Ryan also weighed in, but in more measured tones.

"The North Korean regime has long given ample reason to question its commitment to stability," Ryan said in a statement. "We must continue to work with our allies toward a peaceful resolution, but that will require a much greater degree of seriousness from the Kim regime."

Trump's critics also seized on the news, but as a way to hammer the White House.

"The art of diplomacy is a lot harder than the art of the deal. The reality is, is that it's pretty amazing that the administration might be shocked that North Korea is acting as North Korea might very well normally act," Sen. Bob Menendez, D-N.J., said in a hearing involving Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.

While he was still CIA director, Pompeo met with Kim over Easter weekend to establish diplomatic ties and work toward setting up the summit. Pompeo had also secured the release of the three American prisoners released by North Korea earlier this month.

In his letter to Kim, Trump thanked him for the release but referred to the prisoners in non-diplomatic language.

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Tags: Trump, Kim Jong-un, meeting


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