Trump calls off June 12 summit, laments a 'missed opportunity'

In a signed letter to North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, US President Donald Trump lamented the missed opportunity as a "sad moment in history". Speaking later, Mr Trump said the US military "is ready if necessary". PHOTOS: EPA-EFE

US leader cites North Korea's hostility as reason but still open to meeting in future

United States President Donald Trump has cancelled his June 12 summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, citing Pyongyang's hostility, and said the US military stands "ready if necessary".

In a signed letter to Mr Kim yesterday, Mr Trump wrote: "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.

"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.

"This missed opportunity is truly a sad moment in history. Some day, I look very much forward to meeting you."

He added: "If you change your mind having to do with this most important summit, please do not hesitate to call me or write."

Speaking after releasing the letter, Mr Trump sounded a bellicose note. "Our military, which is by far the most powerful anywhere in the world, and has been greatly enhanced recently... is ready if necessary.

CONSEQUENCES OF RECENT ACTION

I was very much looking forward to being there with you. 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.  

US PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP, in a letter to North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.

HOPES FOR CONTINUED DIALOGUE

Singapore regrets that the scheduled summit between President of the United States Donald J. Trump and Democratic People’s Republic of Korea State Affairs Commission Chairman Kim Jong Un will no longer take place on 12 June 2018. Singapore hopes that the dialogue and efforts to find lasting peace and stability on the Korean peninsula will continue. 

SINGAPORE FOREIGN MINISTRY

"I have spoken to South Korea and Japan, and they are not only ready should foolish or reckless acts be taken by North Korea, but they are (also) willing to shoulder much of the costs of any financial burden and any other costs (of a US operation."

But the US President also made clear that he is still keeping open the possibility of a summit. "It is possible that the existing summit could take place or a summit at some later date. Nobody should be anxious, we have to get it right."

Strong sanctions and the US-led "maximum pressure campaign" on North Korea will continue, he added.

Global stocks fell sharply following the news of the cancellation of the summit.

There was no reaction from North Korea by press time.

South Korean President Moon Jae In, who convened an emergency meeting with top aides last night, expressed deep regret over the cancellation of the summit, but urged that "denuclearisation should not be delayed".

An official from Japan's Ministry of Foreign Affairs said the letter from Mr Trump did not mean the US felt that the summit was not important. "The Japanese government will continue to align and coordinate policies between the US, Japan and South Korea, and we will keep closely watching the outcome."

Singapore, which was to host the summit, said it regrets the cancellation of the meeting.

The summit would have been the first-ever meeting between a serving American president and a North Korean leader.

But differences remain between the two sides. Washington wants a complete, verifiable and irreversible denuclearisation of North Korea. But Pyongyang says it will never give up its nuclear deterrence until it feels safe from what it calls US aggression.

 
 
 
 

North Korea hardened its rhetoric towards the US yesterday before Mr Trump's letter was released, lashing out at remarks by Vice-President Mike Pence that had compared the country with Libya. He had suggested Mr Kim risked the fate of toppled Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi if he did not make a deal.

North Korean Vice-Minister of Foreign Affairs Choe Son Hui said in a statement: "I cannot suppress my surprise at such ignorant and stupid remarks gushing out from the mouth of the US Vice-President."

Ms Choe added: "We 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 a nuclear-to-nuclear showdown is entirely dependent upon the decision and behaviour of the United States."

• Additional reporting by Walter Sim and Chang May Choon

 
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 25, 2018, with the headline 'Trump calls off June 12 summit, laments a 'missed opportunity''. Print Edition | Subscribe