President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un have differing interpretations of what doomed the planned nuclear summit.
A statement released by the state-run Korean Central News Agency and attributed to vice foreign minister Kim Kye Gwan expressed “great regret” for Trump’s “sudden and unilateral” announcement. It was “hard to guess” the reasons for the summit’s cancellation, Gwan said.
“It could be that he lacked the will for the summit or he might not have felt confident,” he adds.
Gwan said North Korea had “inwardly highly appreciated” Trump’s “bold” decision to meet with Kim Jong Un, but said Trump’s decision to cancel the summit is “not consistent with the desire of humankind for peace and stability in the world.”
Gwan also addressed a recent statement from North Korea’s vice foreign minister Choe Son Hui in which she called Vice President Mike Pence “a political dummy” for comparing North Korea to Libya, saying that the vice foreign minister’s comments were “just a reaction to the unbridled remarks made by the U.S. side which has long pressed the DPRK unilaterally to scrap nuclear program ahead of the DPRK-U.S. summit.”
Gwan continues by extending an olive branch to the United States:
We will to do everything we could for peace and stability of the Korean peninsula and humankind, and we, broad-minded and open all the time, have the willingness to offer the U.S. side time and opportunity.
The first meeting would not solve all, but solving even one at a time in a phased way would make the relations get better rather than making them get worse. The U.S. should ponder over it.
But President Trump is claiming the opposite on Twitter.
“Very good news to receive the warm and productive statement from North Korea,” he wrote. “We will soon see where it will lead, hopefully to long and enduring prosperity and peace.”
Very good news to receive the warm and productive statement from North Korea. We will soon see where it will lead, hopefully to long and enduring prosperity and peace. Only time (and talent) will tell!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 25, 2018
The president’s claim that the North Korean response was “warm and productive” ignores his role in canceling the summit. Yesterday, the president announced the cancellation in a letter addressed to Kim Jong Un which boasted of the United States’ nuclear capabilities.
“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,” the president wrote after condemning the North Korean leader for his “tremendous anger and “open hostility.”
The North Korean Central News Agency had previously reported that the country had no interest in the summit with the United States if the president demanded that North Korea shut down its nuclear program.
BREAKING: North Korea official says country has no interest in summit with US if it's based on 'one-sided' demands to give up nuclear weapons
— The Associated Press (@AP) May 16, 2018
The White House remained silent on that development for a full day before White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders told reporters that North Korea’s reversal was something the White House “fully expected.”
Sarah Sanders on North Korea threatening to pull out of summit: "This is something we fully expected. The president is very used to & ready for tough negotiations & if they want to meet, we'll be ready. If they don't, that's ok too & we'll continue w/campaign of maximum pressure" pic.twitter.com/RVAGZ5SrJk
— Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) May 16, 2018
The full text––as well as a copy––of the letter is below:
Dear Mr. Chairman,
We greatly appreciate your time, patience, and effort with respect to our recent negotiations and discussions relative to a summit long sought by both parties, which was scheduled to take place on June 12 in Singapore. We were informed that the meeting was requested by North Korea, but that to us is totally irrelevant. 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. Therefore, 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. 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.
I felt a wonderful dialogue was building up between you and me, and ultimately, it is only that dialogue that matters. Some day, I look very much forward to meeting you. In the meantime, I want to thank you for the release of the hostages who are now home with their families. That was a beautiful gesture and was very much appreciated.
If you change your mind having to do with this most important summit, please do not hesitate to call me or write. The world, and North Korea in particular, has lost a great opportunity for lasting peace and great prosperity and wealth. This missed opportunity is a truly sad moment in history.
The president also posted his letter on Twitter.
“Sadly, I was forced to cancel the Summit Meeting in Singapore with Kim Jong Un,” he wrote.
Sadly, I was forced to cancel the Summit Meeting in Singapore with Kim Jong Un. pic.twitter.com/rLwXxBxFKx
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 24, 2018
The summit cancellation appears to put an end to a push by Republicans to award Trump a Nobel Peace Prize for his efforts in negotiating the summit, which would have been the first meeting between an American president and a North Korean leader.
White House officials who spoke to NBC News confirmed that the president canceled the summit because he didn’t want the North Koreans to cancel first.