Trump calls off Singapore summit with Kim Jong-un
Thomas Lifson updates:
Donald Trump once again proved that he is a president like none of his predecessors, writing a letter to Kim Jong-un this morning canceling their planned upcoming June 12 summit. In it he blames "the tremendous anger and open hostility displayed in your most recent statement" for the cancelation, which he describes as "for the good of both parties, but to the detriment of the world."
The full text of the letter appears below:
The letter blows both hot and cold, with Trump expressing his appreciation to Kim for his "time, patience and effort" and for "the release of the hostages," which he calls a "beautiful gesture and very much appreciated." Yet, in the same letter, he speaks of the nuclear capabilities of the United States, which he calls "so massive and powerful that I pray to God they will never be used."
It seems clear to me that Trump is leaving the door open for resumption of the plan to meet but that he is warning Kim, and more probably the other powerful North Korean officials and factions that might have been opposed to the talks and to consideration of giving up the nuclear program, that his threats to ramp up sanctions and even attack North Korea if it persists remain in place and are dead serious. Trump is obviously also warning Beijing that the dire consequences of future conflict remain in place.
The "recent statement" that Trump used as justification for canceling the meeting was in response to what looks to my eyes like a provocation from V.P. Pence:
A high-ranking North Korean minister called U.S. Vice President Mike Pence a "political dummy" for likening her country to Libya just days after Pyongyang explicitly rejected all comparisons to the North African state.
There are so many unknowns here, such as possible classified intelligence reports, that it is impossible to know what really caused this move on Trump's part. I don't rule out any possibilities. But for now, at least, as to Rick Moran's original post in the subject below, Emily Litella has the subject covered:
Rick earlier wrote:
There's been a lot of posturing on both the U.S. and North Korean sides recently, with Vice President Pence suggesting regime change if Kim refuses to denuclearize and a spokesman for Kim threatening a nuclear confrontation if the U..S presses the issue.
"Whether the US 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 in comments carried by North Korea's state-run KCNA news agency Thursday.
Choe was responding to comments by Pence made Monday during a Fox News interview that she deemed "unbridled and impudent."
North Korea is known for its fiery rhetoric, but these latest comments are particularly noteworthy because they come directly from a high-ranking official and so close to the summit – which is scheduled for June 12 in Singapore.
Any notion of rapprochement between the U.S. and North Korea must begin and end with denuclearization. Otherwise, what's the point in talking? The reference by Pence and Bolton to Libya is calculated and deliberate.
Choe took particular issue with Pence's remarks about US National Security Adviser John Bolton, who said the US would look to the negotiations with Libya during the early 2000s when dealing with North Korea.
"There was some talk about the Libya model," Pence told Fox News' Martha MacCallum. "As the President made clear, this will only end like the Libya model ended if Kim Jong Un doesn't make a deal."
When MacCallum said that some people may have seen Bolton's comments as a threat, Pence said "I think it's more of a fact."
North Korea has long cited Libya's case as the reason it needs nuclear weapons. Less than a decade after Moammar Gadhafi agreed to abandon its nuclear aspirations in a deal with the United States, he was ousted from power and killed with the help of NATO-backed forces.
No doubt, it is a sensitive matter for the North Koreans, but drawing parallels with Gaddafi is useful. Staking out a strong position at the beginning of negotiations may be something Kim isn't used to when it comes to dealing with the U.S., but at least he knows how serious we are.
Choe called Pence a "political dummy" for comparing Libya to North Korea. She noted that Libya's nuclear program was in its early stages when it came to the negotiating table, while North Korea has spent years developing its nuclear weapons.
"As a person involved in the US affairs, I cannot suppress my surprise at such ignorant and stupid remarks gushing out from the mouth of the US vice president," she said.
Pence has been vocal critic of North Korea and its human rights abuses.
If North Korea isn't used to Trump's negotiating ploys by now, it never will be. That's why I think talk of the summit being in trouble is overblown. Both sides have too much at stake to allow a cancelation, and for Kim especially, the summit may be his last chance to avoid a total economic collapse and humanitarian tragedy. More importantly from his point of view, some kind of success at the summit will strengthen his position in the byzantine world of the North Korean leadership. In short, Kim needs us a lot more than we need him, and rhetorical flourishes aside, I expect him to be in Singapore next month.
Both sides would do well to tone down the harsh rhetoric and threats, although for both Trump and Kim, they appear to be standard operating procedure.