U.S. President Donald Trump has cancelled next month’s summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.
In a letter to Kim released Thursday morning, Trump said the face-to-face meeting, set to take place on June 12 in Singapore, was “inappropriate” to have “at this time.”
“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,” Trump wrote.
Sadly, I was forced to cancel the Summit Meeting in Singapore with Kim Jung Un. pic.twitter.com/qEoi9ymUEz
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 24, 2018
North Korea lashed out at the U.S. Thursday after Vice President Mike Pence repeated Trump’s Libya threat to Pyongyang – a reference to the 2011 U.S.-backed overthrow and murder of Libyan leader Moammar Gaddafi.
In a statement from North Korean Vice Foreign Minister Choe Son-hui, Pyongyang also protested U.S. demands that it unilaterally denuclearize without concession.
“U.S. Vice-President Pence has made unbridled and impudent remarks that North Korea might end like Libya, military option for North Korea never came off the table, the U.S. needs complete, verifiable, and irreversible denuclearization, and so on,” Son-hui said. “As a person involved in the U.S. affairs, I cannot suppress my surprise at such ignorant and stupid remarks gushing out from the mouth of the U.S. vice-president.”
Pence’s remark came after Trump, attempting to distance himself from White House National Security Advisor John Bolton, confused Bolton’s reference to the Libyan disarmament of 2003 with the NATO campaign against the country in 2011.
“The model, if you look at that model with Gaddafi, that was a total decimation. We went in there to beat them,” Trump told reporters. “Now, that model would take place if we don’t make a deal, most likely.”
Bolton’s initial comments on the “Libya model” last week began the souring relations that led to the summit’s cancellation.
North Korea’s First Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs Kim Kye Gwan similarly accused Bolton last Wednesday of endangering the current détente with “unbridled remarks.”
“World knows too well that our country is neither Libya nor Iraq which have met miserable fate. It is absolutely absurd to dare compare the DPRK, a nuclear weapon state, to Libya which had been at the initial stage of nuclear development,” Gwan wrote. “We shed light on the quality of Bolton already in the past, and we do not hide our feeling of repugnance towards him.”
And here it is: the English-language translation of N. Korea’s latest statement, taking aim pretty clearly at John Bolton. pic.twitter.com/Utl8vYStVB
— Jonathan Cheng (@JChengWSJ) May 16, 2018
Trump’s Thursday letter, which thanked North Korea for releasing three American hostages, also made an ominous reference to the U.S. nuclear arsenal.
“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 wrote.
The president also left room open for the meeting to take place at another date and time.
“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 decision reportedly came as a surprise to some administration officials, who felt North Korea’s comments were merely posturing and that Kim still was expected to attend.
U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, however, said North Korea failed to respond when reached to discuss logistics for the summit.
South Korean President Moon Jae-in, who was unaware of the plan to cancel, called an emergency meeting in Seoul at around midnight.
Reports claimed last week that the president became uneasy about the upcoming summit after North Korea expressed disagreement with U.S. demands.
News of the cancellation comes just hours after Pyongyang announced the closure of its nuclear test site at Punggye-ri.
Speaking in the Oval Office Thursday, Trump said the U.S. military was ready “if necessary” if conditions with North Korea continued to deteriorate.