UPDATE 2 — 5/24, 10:06 a.m. EDT: Following North Korea’s insults of Vice President Pence, as well as closure of a nuclear test site in the northeastern county of Kilju after a series of explosions demolished tunnels and structural facilities, President Trump sent a letter to Kim Jong-un Thursday canceling an upcoming meeting between the two leaders in Singapore.
Specifically, Trump cited Pyongyang’s “tremendous anger and open hostility” made in statements earlier in the day which called Pence’s recent comments about denuclearization of the North “ignorant and stupid”, and referred to the Indiana Republican as a “political dummy”.
UPDATE — 5/22, 1:41 p.m. EDT: Speaking to the media alongside South Korea’s Moon Jae-in at the White House Tuesday, President Trump cast doubt over the scheduled meeting with North Korea next month in Singapore.
“It may not work out for June 12,” Trump said, later adding he is still committed to the goal of negotiating a nuclear draw-down on the Korean Peninsula and that Kim Jong-un is “serious” about making a deal to secure peace in the region.
A planned summit between President Trump and North Korean Supreme Leader Kim Jong-un set for June 12 in Singapore is in doubt after North Korean officials objected to joint U.S.-South Korean military exercises and a U.S. demand Pyongyang surrender its nuclear arsenal.
Just as the North warned it would walk away from the high-level meeting with the U.S., Pyongyang abruptly cancelled a scheduled conference with South Korean officials over the Maximum Thunder military drills.
North Korea declared in a statement it would not go forward with meetings with the South until the its dispute with the maneuvers was settled. Speaking for the North, Ri Son Gwon, said the South Korean government was “ignorant and incompetent.”
In a statement from the North Korean Foreign Ministry, Vice Foreign Minister Kim Kye-gwan also directed ire at the U.S. over statements from National Security Adviser John Bolton, who had said in an interview one main objective of the summit was the complete denuclarization of the North.
Earlier, Bolton had said he envisioned a so-called “Libya model” for North Korea, in which the North Korean leadership would remain in power under the circumstance Mr. Kim eliminated his nuclear stockpile and submitted to Western inspectors.
A statement which infuriated Pyongyang, the North responded it held a deep “repugnance” for Mr. Bolton.
“It is absolutely absurd to dare compare the DPRK (Democratic People’s Republic of Korea), a nuclear weapons state, to Libya, which had been at the initial stage of nuclear development,” Kim said.
Addressing reporters at the White House, Mr. Trump expressed hope the meeting would continue as planned, but was not prepared to abandon his position the North must de-nuclearize.
“We’ll have to see. No decision, we haven’t been notified at all . . . We haven’t seen anything, we haven’t heard anything,” Trump said.
Although Pyongyang has remained silent since it warned the U.S.-North Korean summit was in jeopardy, Vice President Mike Pence told Fox News North Korea should avoid making demands if it has no intention of keeping promises it made previous to committing to face-to-face talks with the U.S.
While Trump is set to meet with South Korean President Moon Jae-in at the White House Tuesday and anonymous administration officials have told CNN the prospects for next month’s meeting dwindling, experts say its up to Seoul to save the summit.
“I think President Moon is going to try to explain North Korea’s position,” said former CIA analyst Sue Mi Terry. “Moon will try and do a lot of talking on Kim’s behalf. And if President Trump is not convinced, then there’s no meeting.”
[Daily Mail] [Reuters] [CNN] [The Hill] [AP] [Photo courtesy AFP/Getty Images via CNN]