US President Donald Trump has notified Kim Jong-un, the North Korean leader, that he has cancelled their much-anticipated meeting to discuss steps toward denuclearization and peace because of recent “tremendous anger and open hostility” by Pyongyang toward members of his administration.
In his letter to Kim, addressed as “Dear Mr. Chairman,” Trump blamed North Korea for the cancellation, calling the summit “inappropriate at this time” given the “tremendous anger and open hostility displayed” by Pyongyang.
“I feel it is inappropriate, at this time, to have this long-planned meeting,” President Trump wrote in the letter, referring to the summit that had been set for June 12 in Singapore.
“”The dialogue was good until recently,” Trump said, responding to questions from reporters. He said he believed he understood why North Korea’s tone had soured, but refused to specify. In recent days he has publicly blamed Chinese President Xi Jinping for a change in Pyongyang’s approach.
“The world and North Korea has lost a tremendous opportunity for lasting peace and great prosperity and wealth,” Trump wrote. “This missed opportunity is truly a sad moment in history.”
The announcement comes two days after Trump hosted his South Korean counterpart Moon Jae-in in Washington, DC, for talks widely seen as a salvage effort to ensure his summit with Kim went ahead.
President Trump did not cite specifics but a high-ranking North Korean official earlier Thursday called Vice President Mike Pence “ignorant and stupid” after Pence raised the prospect that North Korea could meet a fate similar to Libya’s in its path to denuclearization. The official also suggested that North Korea was as prepared for a nuclear exchange as it was for the negotiating table. White House officials said that, after the North Korean reaction to those comments, senior administration officials at the highest levels held discussions that eventually led to the cancellation of the summit.
Trump and Kim have exchanged nuclear threats and also traded derisive nicknames for the other, with Mr. Trump calling the North Korean leader the “little Rocket Man” and Mr. Kim dubbing the American president as a “dotard.”
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo told a Senate committee on Thursday the White House had “tried repeatedly” to connect with North Korea in recent days over plans for the Singapore summit, but received no response.
“Don’t Hesitate to Call”
Trump did say, however, he would be open to a possible meeting in the future.
“If you change your mind having to do with this most important summit, please do hot hesitate to call me or write,” he said.
“I felt a wonderful dialogue was building up between you and me, and ultimately, it is only that dialogue that matters,” Mr. Trump wrote to Mr. Kim. “Some day, I look very much forward to meeting you.”
In the letter, Mr. Trump thanked Mr. Kim again for the release of three American hostages on May 9, in what was seen as eliminating a big obstacle to the planned peace summit. And the president told the North Korean leader to call or write him if he wants to speak.
The World’s Response
President Moon Jae-in of South Korea called Mr. Trump’s cancellation of the summit meeting “disconcerting and very regrettable.” Mr. Moon has been trying for months to help stage the summit.
Trump said that he had spoken with South Korean and Japanese officials and that those two countries were prepared to stand with the U.S. “if necessary should foolish or reckless acts be taken by North Korea.”
Mark Fitzpatrick from the International Institute for Strategic Studies told Al Jazeera the tone of Trump’s letter bodes ill for peace on the Korean Peninsula. “The way that Trump did this in a letter that threatens North Korea with nuclear annihilation is probably not the right signal to send,” said Fitzpatrick. “I don’t think North Korea is going to respond so well to that kind of a threat. North Korea is going to feel betrayed by this, North Korea will react negatively.”