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North Korean summit cancellation stuns world leaders

by Onize Ohikere & Leigh Jones
Posted 5/24/18, 12:04 pm

UPDATE: World leaders are scrambling to figure out what comes next after U.S. President Donald Trump pulled out of his planned summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un. South Korea, the strongest U.S. ally in efforts to bring North Korea to the negotiating table, seemed stunned by the news. A South Korean presidential spokesman told the Yonhap News Agency that officials “are trying to figure out what President Trump’s intention is and the exact meaning of it.” U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo would not say whether the White House informed its South Korean counterparts about the cancellation before Trump released his open letter to Kim. United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres said he was “deeply concerned” about the meeting’s cancellation. But Trump left open the possibility that it could be rescheduled at a later date. The president urged Kim not to “hesitate to call me or write” if he changes his mind about the summit. Pompeo said North Korean leaders never responded to U.S. inquiries about summit planning efforts. U.S. lawmakers mostly praised the decision. House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., said the summit’s success depended on a more serious approach from Kim. Sen. Bob Menendez from New Jersey, the top-ranking Democrat on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said the Trump administration should not be surprised that North Korea “is acting as North Korea might very well normally act.” Trump noted that the U.S. military is “ready if necessary” to respond to “foolish or reckless acts” by North Korea.

OUR EARLIER REPORT (10:57 a.m.): U.S. President Donald Trump on Thursday canceled his summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un over the “tremendous anger and open hostility” in Pyongyang’s latest statement. The move comes after increased verbal clashes between the two nations in recent days. Trump and Kim had scheduled the historic summit for June 12 in Singapore to discuss denuclearizing North Korea. On Thursday, Choe Son Hui, the North Korean vice minister of foreign affairs, called U.S. Vice President Mike Pence a “political dummy” after Pence said during a Fox News interview that North Korea could end up like Libya if it abandons denuclearization efforts. Choe called the comments “ignorant” and “stupid” and said his country is ready to face the United States either in negotiations or in a nuclear showdown. In a letter to Kim, Trump said that statement made it inappropriate to hold the summit, adding that North Korea lost an opportunity for lasting peace and wealth. “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. Before Thursday’s escalating war of words, North Korea dismantled its nuclear test site ahead of the planned summit. Earlier this month, North Korea released three American prisoners held in the country. Trump at the time thanked Kim for releasing the hostages, saying the move was “a beautiful gesture and was much appreciated.”

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Onize Ohikere

Onize is a reporter for WORLD Digital based in Abuja, Nigeria.

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Leigh Jones

Leigh lives in Houston with her husband and daughter. She is the news editor for The World and Everything in It and reports on education for WORLD Digital.

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  • OldMike
    Posted: Thu, 05/24/2018 01:54 pm

    We are watching a chess match, a contest between two who have played this game before. 

    Remember first of all, the God of the Universe is in control. Second, I believe neither President Trump nor President Kim have any intention of abandoning the possibility of progress towards a peaceful and non-threatening relationship between North Korea and the rest of the world. Third, neither has any intention of “giving away the store” in negotiations, in order to attain an agreement at any cost. 

    There will be object lessons here for other belligerent nations in the world. I expect this to be interesting. 

  • Deb O's picture
    Deb O
    Posted: Thu, 05/24/2018 04:51 pm

    Of course God is always in control. That said, I do not share your optimism with these two leaders, both full of bluster and incendiary rhetoric. Kennedy and Khrushchev, they are not.

  • Steve SoCal
    Posted: Thu, 05/24/2018 05:19 pm

    I am curious how you would know that "North Korea dismantled its nuclear test site ahead of the planned summit".  From what I have read elsewhere, there were no outside observers present for this supposed dismantling.  Also, it has been widely reported that the facility had already collapsed in a previous nuclear test and was no longer usable.  Let's not rush to give credit where no credit is necessarily due.

  • Laura W
    Posted: Thu, 05/24/2018 10:42 pm

    I think they let some reporters watch. Not that they necessarily gave away much, but still.

  • Bonnie Jean
    Posted: Thu, 05/24/2018 05:25 pm

    Playing chess on the world stgage, indeed, everyone stay tuned, isn't that the idea? Both leaders playing who has the most control, demanding attention and respect. Who stands to lose the most? Thank goodness God is Sovreign and in control.

  • Laura W
    Posted: Thu, 05/24/2018 10:44 pm

    If Kim needs this meeting more than Trump does (and there's a good chance that's true), then Trump shouldn't allow himself to be manuvered into having to beg Kim for it. So I'm not too worried yet.