US President Donald Trump on Thursday called off a historic summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un scheduled for next month, citing Pyongyang’s “open hostility”.
Trump wrote a letter to Kim to announce his withdrawal from the summit which was due to take place in Singapore on June 12, Reuters reports.
“Sadly, based on the tremendous anger and open hostility displayed in your most recent statement, I feel it would be inappropriate, at this time, to have this long-planned meeting,” Trump wrote to Kim.
It marked a dramatic end to weeks of optimistic statements from Trump about what would have been the first-ever meeting between a serving US president and a North Korean leader.
On Wednesday evening Washington time, North Korea had repeated a threat to pull out of the summit and warned it was prepared for a nuclear showdown with Washington if necessary.
That statement, in which Pyongyang also condemned US Vice President Mike Pence as a “political dummy”, was “the last straw”, Reuters cited White House officials as saying.
A senior official said there had been “a trail of broken promises” from North Korea “that has given the United States pause.”
That included the North Koreans not showing up to a planned meeting in Singapore last week.
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, who met Kim twice in Pyongyang, said North Korea had not responded to contacts in recent days and Trump had made his decision after meetings on Wednesday in which he concluded the summit would not be successful.
“We got a lot of dial tones,” Pompeo said, adding it was disappointing but “frankly not a surprise.”
North Korean Vice Foreign Minister Kim Kye Gwan responded to Trump’s announcement by saying Pyongyang remains open to resolving issues with Washington “at any time in any way.”
“We had set in high regards President Trump’s efforts, unprecedented by any other president, to create a historic North Korea-US summit,” he was quoted as saying by the official Korean Central News Agency.
Speaking at the White House, Trump said he remains open to dialogue, but warned that the US military was ready in the event of any reckless acts by North Korea.
Asked if the summit cancellation increased the risk of war, Trump replied: “We’ll see what happens.”
Washington will continue its “maximum pressure” campaign of sanctions to press North Korea to give up its nuclear weapons, he said.
While Trump left the door open for talks with Kim, chances for a quick rescheduling appear remote, and the cancellation will renew fears of a return to conflict on the Korean peninsula, Reuters noted.
South Korean President Moon Jae-in, who worked hard to help set up the summit, said he was “perplexed” by the cancellation.
He urged Trump and Kim to talk directly.
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