In a stunning turn of events, U.S. President Donald Trump called off his landmark meeting with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un on Thursday, citing “tremendous anger and open hostility” in a recent statement released by Pyongyang’s state-run media.
In a letter released by the White House addressed to Kim, Trump thanked the North Korean leader for his “time, patience and effort” in regards to the recent negotiations, but said that he felt it “inappropriate, at this time, to have this long-planned meeting.”
While canceling the meeting, which would have been the first between a sitting U.S. president and a North Korean leader, Trump also appeared to issue a warning.
“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.”
Speaking at the White House later in the day, Trump said the U.S. military is “ready if necessary” to respond to “foolish or reckless acts” by North Korea.
Trump also said he has been in touch with South Korea and Japan and that both allies are willing to bear much of the financial burden “if such an unfortunate situation is forced upon us.”
In response to the U.S. announcement on the summit, South Korean President Moon Jae-in called an emergency meeting with top security advisers, the Yonhap news agency reported.
“(We) are trying to figure out what President Trump’s intention is and the exact meaning of it,” Yonhap quoted presidential spokesman Kim Eui-kyeom as telling reporters.
Speaking to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee shortly after the cancellation was announced, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said North Korea did not respond to repeated requests from U.S. officials to discuss logistics for the planned summit.
Pompeo said the lack of response was an additional reason for Trump’s decision, adding that the North’s attitude changed markedly since he returned from a trip to Pyongyang earlier this month, when he met with Kim and secured the release of three American prisoners being held there.
Asked in the same hearing if allies — including South Korea and Japan — were given advance notice of the cancellation, Pompeo declined to give a clear answer.
Trump appeared to leave open the possibility of future diplomatic progress. In his statement at the White House, he called it “possible” that the summit would go on as planned — it had been set for June 12 in Singapore — or take place at a later date, saying he was awaiting “constructive” steps from Kim.
In his letter to Kim, Trump also appeared to leave room for a change of plans: “If you change your mind having to do with this most important summit, please do not hesitate to call me or write,” Trump wrote. “The world, and North Korea in particular, has lost a great opportunity for latest peace and great prosperity and wealth. This missed opportunity is a truly sad moment in history.”
Information from The Associated Press added