President Donald Trump sent a letter Thursday informing North Korean leader Kim Jong-un that he will not attend their previously planned June 12 meeting in Singapore due to the “open hostility” displayed in the Kim regime’s recent pronouncements.
“Sadly based on the tremendous anger and open hostility displayed in your most recent statement, I feel it is inappropriate, and at this time, to have this long-planned meeting,” Trump wrote in a letter to Kim. “Therefore, please let this letter service 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.”
The withdrawal comes hours after a North Korean official described Vice President Mike Pence as a “political dummy” for repeating the threat, initially made by national-security adviser John Bolton, that Kim would share the fate of deposed Libyan dictator Moammar Qaddafi if he refused to cooperate with U.S. demands.
“This will only end like the Libyan model ended if Kim Jong-un doesn’t make a deal,” Pence told Fox News Tuesday, adding that his statement was “more of a fact” than a threat.
A North Korean official responded to Pence’s statement early Thursday, deeming his threat “unbridled and impudent.”
“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 behavior of the United States,” Choe Son Hui, a vice-minister in the North Korean Foreign Ministry, told North Korea’s state-run KCNA news agency Thursday.
The summit cancellation came just hours after the Kim regime made good on a promise to demolish its sole nuclear-testing site, blowing up tunnels and buildings at the Punggye-ri site in front of journalists from five different countries.
North Korea first interrupted a months-long trend of conciliatory gestures that gave rise to improved relations last week, canceling high-level diplomatic talks with South Korea in response to a long-planned joint military exercise between South Korean and U.S. forces.
Update 10:49a.m.: Secretary of State Mike Pompeo told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee Thursday morning that North Korea did not respond to multiple attempts to open a dialogue in advance of the now-defunct summit.