United States President Donald Trump announced he will not attend a planned meeting with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un.
In a letter sent to Kim yesterday, Trump said the summit — which had been scheduled for June 12 in Singapore — would no longer be possible “based on the tremendous anger and open hostility” shown by Pyongyang in its most recent statement.
“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 meeting would have been the first time a sitting US president met a North Korean leader.
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.
“I was very much looking forward to being there with you,” Trump said in the letter.
“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.”
A statement earlier yesterday from Pyongyang referred to Vice President Mike Pence as a “political dummy”, and said it is just as ready to meet in a nuclear confrontation as at the negotiating table with the United States.
Trump said 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 not hesitate to call me or write.”
Trump had called on Pyongyang to abandon its nuclear weapons programme and arsenal ahead of the summit.
North Korea, which reportedly demolished its Punggye-ri nuclear test site earlier yesterday, had threatened to pull out of the Singapore summit if the US continued to demand it gives up its nuclear arsenal unilaterally.
A spokesperson for UN Secretary-General Antonio Gutierrez described the move as “welcomed”, though expressed regret that international experts were not invited to witness the dismantling of the site.
Kim Kye-gwan, North Korea’s first vice minister of foreign affairs, said in a statement last week that Pyongyang would “no longer be interested” in dialogue if the US “is trying to drive us into a corner”.
Pyongyang also cited ongoing US-South Korea war games as not conducive to peace talks, and demanded the manoeuvres be cancelled.
North Korean Vice Foreign Minister Choe Son-hui said yesterday her country “will neither beg the US for dialogue, nor take the trouble to persuade them if they do not want to sit together with us”.
“Whether the US will meet us at a meeting room, or encounter us at nuclear-to-nuclear showdown is entirely dependent upon the decision and behaviour of the United States.” — Al Jazeera