US President Donald Trump has canceled a much-anticipated summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, “based on the tremendous anger and open hostility” from Kim, who threatened the US with a “nuclear-to-nuclear showdown.”
“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,” read the letter, sent a few hours after North Korea blew up its nuke testing site at Punggye-ri. The demolition was witnessed by a small pool of foreign journalists, and was considered a goodwill gesture from Kim ahead of the planned summit.
In his letter, Trump lamented the loss of a historic opportunity, but thanked Kim for releasing three American hostages, which he said was a “beautiful gesture.”
North Korean Vice Minister Choe Son-hui said earlier on Thursday that his country would walk away from the summit, which had been due to take place in Singapore on June 12, if Washington continued to carry out its "unlawful and outrageous acts."
Whether the U.S. will meet us at a meeting room or encounter us at nuclear-to-nuclear showdown is entirely dependent upon the decision and behavior of the United States," Choe said.
The "unlawful acts" mentioned by Choe refer to joint military exercises carried out by the US and South Korea earlier this month. The North viewed these annual drills as intentional provocation and practice for an invasion.
Choe also singled out Vice President Mike Pence, who said earlier this week that North Korea could end up like Libya if Kim didn’t make a deal. The Libya comparison had been first made by Trump’s national security adviser, John Bolton, who suggested that the denuclearization of North Korea could follow “the Libya model.”
After surrendering his weapons in 2003, Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi was deposed and executed in a NATO-backed coup in 2011.
Following these statements, North Korea canceled talks with the South early in May, yet not the Singapore meeting with Trump. Since then the fate of the summit had been discussed almost daily in the media, with the US president being vague about its prospects.
Now Trump, who used to call Kim 'little rocket man,' and the North Korean leader seem to be back to threats.
“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,” Trump said in the letter.
Finally, Trump suggested that maybe one day, the two leaders could be friends.
“If you change your mind... please do not hesitate to call me or write,” the letter reads.