Trump cancels summit with North Korea due to ‘open hostility’

May 24, 2018

President Trump canceled his highly anticipated summit Thursday with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, telling him in a letter that North Korea’s “tremendous anger and open hostility” directed at the U.S. were unacceptable.

“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,” Mr. Trump told the North Korean leader.

The summit was thrown into doubt in recent days due to increasingly hostile comments from North Korean officials. On Wednesday night, a top North Korean diplomat called Vice President Mike Pence a “political dummy” and warned that the U.S. could face a “nuclear-to-nuclear showdown” if the administration didn’t give Pyongyang more respect.

Mr. Trump told Mr. Kim that he was “very much looking forward to being there with you” 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,” the president said. “Therefore, please let this letter serve to represent that the Singapore Summit, for the good of both parties, but to the detriment of the world, will not take place.”

Mr. Trump said the collapse of the summit was “a truly sad moment in history.”

“The world, and North Korea in particular, has lost a great opportunity for lasting peace and great prosperity and wealth,” the president wrote.

The development capped a whirlwind series of high-level, secretive negotiations that had seemed poised to lower tensions between the two countries which had been escalating since early in Mr. Trump’s presidency. Throughout 2017, North Korea conducted a series of ominous missile tests and warned they were capable of striking the U.S., as both leaders traded personal insults.

Just two weeks ago, momentum for the summit appeared to be on the upswing as North Korea released three American captives, who returned to Washington with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to fanfare. Mr. Trump said the gesture showed great promise that the talks with Mr. Kim would produce results.

“I felt a wonderful dialogue was building up between you and me, and ultimately, it is only that dialogue that matters,” Mr. Trump told Mr. Kim. “Someday, I look very much forward to meeting you. In the meantime, I want to thank you for the release of the hostages who are now home with their families. That was a beautiful gesture and was very much appreciated.”

The North Korean vice minister of foreign affairs complained Wednesday night that the U.S. had been portraying the summit as something that North Korea requested. She said the U.S. actually sought the meeting. Mr. Trump said it didn’t matter either way.

“We were informed that the meeting was requested by North Korea, but that to us is totally irrelevant,” the president told Mr. Kim. “if you change your mind having to do with this most important summit, please do not hesitate to call me or write.”

Sen. Tom Cotton, a member of the Senate Intelligence and Armed Services committees, applauded Mr. Trump’s decision.

“North Korea has a long history of demanding concessions merely to negotiate. While past administrations of both parties have fallen for this ruse, I commend the president for seeing through Kim Jong Un’s fraud,” said the Arkansas Republican. “As I have long said, our maximum-pressure campaign on North Korea must continue.”

Mr. Pompeo, testifying Thursday to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, called the cancellation of the summit “a little bit of a setback.” He said the U.S. has tried repeatedly in recent days to connect with North Korea on logistical issues related to the planned meeting.

“We had received no response to our inquiries,” Mr. Pompeo said.

Some lawmakers reacted to the summit’s cancellation by saying the U.S. now must keep up its campaign of economic sanctions against North Korea.

House Speaker Paul D. Ryan said the North Korean regime “has long given ample reason to question its commitment to stability.”

“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,” the Wisconsin Republican said in a statement. “At the same time, Congress has provided significant tools to hold North Korea accountable, and it is important that the United States not relent in this maximum pressure campaign.”

S.A. Miller contributed to this report.