U.S.—North Korea Summit Cancelled
By Jishnu Nair – Syracuse, N.Y. (CitrusTV) – North Korea said Thursday evening that it would still be willing to sit down with the United States for talks at any time.
The announcement follows a tumultuous Thursday which began with the White House releasing a statement saying the long-awaited summit between North Korean leader Kim Jong-un and President Donald Trump is cancelled.
“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-awaited meeting,” Trump wrote in the statement.
The President is referring to a North Korean statement made early Thursday morning, slamming Vice President Mike Pence and National Security Advisor John Bolton. Bolton had made comments earlier describing the situation between North Korea and the U.S. as a “Libya model” scenario, referring to American action against then-Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi in 2003 and 2011. Pence emphasized these comments in an interview with Fox News on Tuesday.
“This will only end like the Libya model ended if Kim Jong-un doesn’t make a deal,” Pence tweeted after his interview.
The North Korean statement, which was released through the country’s state media, called Pence’s comments “ignorant” and “stupid.”
The summit, which was scheduled for June 12, had otherwise been running smoothly. South Korean President Moon Jae-in, who has advocated for a peaceful resolution to the tensions with the North, met with President Trump on Tuesday.
“It is very regretful and disconcerting that the US-NK summit will not happen as planned,” said Moon’s office on Thursday. Moon told South Korean media that his office will investigate the breakdown in relations.
North Korea, meanwhile, had invited 20 handpicked international journalists from outlets such as Sky News and the Associated Press to personally witness the destruction of three tunnels at a nuclear test site, rendering them unusable.
However, shortly after the destruction, the White House released its cancellation statement. An unidentified U.S. official told AP that the North Korean statement slamming Pence and alleging nuclear threats against the United States meant that no summit could be carried out.
Reactions across the United States and around the world were mixed. Senator Bob Menendez (D-N.J.) told reporters in Congress that “the art of diplomacy is harder than the art of the deal” and questioned the Libyan models statements that Bolton and Pence made in the buildup to the summit.
Republican Senator Bob Corker, of Tennessee, told Washington Post reporters on Capitol Hill that the North Koreans “were not ready” for the summit and that he trusted Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s reports on the incidents.
Senator Marco Rubio (R-F.L.) took a harder line on the withdrawal, accusing Kim of sabotaging the deal in the weeks ahead of the summit.
“In the words of a wise man, ‘congrats, you played yourself,” Rubio tweeted after the statement was released.
U.N. Secretary General Antonio Guterres, speaking at the University of Geneva, expressed concern over the diplomatic dealings. The Secretary General was delivering a speech on disarmament and denuclearization in Switzerland.
“I urge the parties to continue their dialogue to find a path to a peaceful and verifiable denuclearisation of the Korean peninsula,” Guterres said.
Talks may still continue, however. Hours after the cancellation, North Korea said it would still be willing to sit down and talk with the U.S.
“I would like to conclude that President Trump’s statement on the North Korea-US summit is a decision that is not in line with the wishes of the who hope for the peace and stability of the Korean peninsula as well as the world,” a senior North Korean official told the country’s state media.
Trump also told reporters at the White House that “if and when Kim Jong Un chooses to engage in constructive dialogue and actions, I am waiting.”
It is currently unclear how far back future talks of any sort have been pushed.