Threat of military conflict has returned to the Korean peninsula after Trump cancelled potentially historic summit with Kim Jong-un and warned US army was prepared if he took some”foolish action”.
The US president said that he was pulling out of this meeting intended for 12 June in Singapore due to the”open hostility” Pyongyang had exhibited lately.
Some analysts said Mr Trump had allowed hawks in his administration, such as national security adviser John Bolton, to undermine the talks before they had been given a opportunity. Notably, South Korean president Moon Jae-in, who played a vital role in establishing back stations for secret negotiations to occur, stated he was”puzzled” by Washington’s decision.
That I have opted to terminate the planned Summit in Singapore on June 12th. While many things can occur and a fantastic opportunity lies ahead potentially, I think this is a huge setback for North Korea and indeed a drawback for the entire world…
After several days where Mr Trump seemed to be signalling that preparations for the planned meeting weren’t going well, he stated he was pulling out because of this”enormous anger and open hostility” in the latest remarks from North Korea. He also called it a”really sad moment in history”.
“I feel it is inappropriate, at this moment, to have this long-planned assembly,” he wrote in a letter, which was said to have been ordered by Mr Bolton. “Hence, please let this letter serve to represent the Singapore summit, for the good of both parties but to the detriment of the world, will not take place.”
Later, speaking to reporters at the White House, he said that the US would continue to impose sanctions against North Korea and that the Pentagon’s stance had not altered.
“Our military is prepared if needed,” said Mr Trump. “Likewise, I have spoken to South Korea and Japan and they are not just ready should reckless or foolish acts be obtained from North Korea, but they are eager to shoulder a lot of the price of any financial burden – any of the costs associated by the USA in operations, should such an unfortunate situation is forced upon us”
While Mr Trump in his correspondence left open the possibility of a future summit if Mr Kim’s stance changed, it had been unclear if he really believed this was possible. Ned Price, former National Security Council spokesperson and special assistant to Barack Obama, advised The Independent he thought the president was”torn between his personal desire for a diplomatic triumph, and, potentially a Nobel Peace Prize, also [Mr] Bolton’s appetite for military conflict”.
He said:”I think the erraticism and the recklessness we’ve seen here’s that the push and pull between Trump’s instincts and those of the advisers. This, I believe, will be a reminder to all those countries that Donald Trump’s America can’t be trusted. Even when we do the proper things and make the ideal move one day, we might pull the rug out from under them in another.”
The announcement by Mr Trump followed 10 days or so during which it was apparent that discussions with North Korea may not be going so well. While the White House had said the purpose of the summit was supposed to bring about the”complete, verifiable, and irreversible denuclearisation” of the Korean Peninsula, distinct members of the team uttered in public, different viewpoints about how this may be achieved.
Fourteen days ago, North Korea puled out of a planned meeting with South Korea, citing continuing joint military exercises between the US and South Korea and describing them as a”provocation”. The cancellation of this meeting, coming so soon after the historic 27 April summit between Mr Kim and Mr Moon from the demilitarised region between the two countries, startled many observers and led some to indicate something was wrong.
Such suspicions were confirmed when North Korea denounced remarks made by Mr Bolton, who said North Korea should scrap its weapons as a starting point for discussions.
Following North Korea reacted negatively to such remarks, Mr Trump seemed to try and reassure Mr Kim that the US didn’t need to pursue the so-called”Libya alternative” for North Korea, a reference to Muammar Gaddafi’s unilateral decision in 2003 to scrap his country’s nuclear and chemical weapons programme in exchange for better relations with the West. He was ultimately killed in October 2011 following the Arab Spring uprising, following rebels were encouraged by Nato war airplanes.
While Mr Trump’s comments were apparently meant to drive the point to Mr Kim which he’d remain the leader of his country, which he said would have a bright future, he also said Mr Kim would get Gaddafi’s destiny if he didn’t give up his weapons.
Such a view was replicated by Vice President Mike Pence, who warned North Korea to not attempt to”play” Mr Trump. “I don’t think President Trump is considering public relations, he is considering peace,” explained Mr Pence.
He later told Fox News:”There was a discussion about the Libya model. Since the president made clear, this will only end like the Libya model ended if Kim Jong-un doesn’t make a bargain.”
Choe Son Hui, a vice-minister in the North Korean foreign ministry, said if the US continued on its present course, she’d suggest to her nation that they reconsider the planned summit between President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un.
“Whether the US will meet with us at a meeting area or encounter us at nuclear-to-nuclear showdown is completely contingent on the conclusion and behaviour of the United States,” Ms Choe stated in comments carried by North Korea’s state-run KCNA news agency.
Mr Trump’s statement came hours after Ms Choe’s remarks. Little has been made public about the discussions that have been directed by secretary of state Mike Pompeo and Andrew Kim, head of the CIA’s Korea Mission Centre located in Langley, Virginia.
South Korea’s Mr Moon, who called an emergency cabinet meeting after Mr Trump made his statement, urged North Korea and the US to find some method to generate the talks happen.
“I am very perplexed and it is very regrettable that the North Korea-US summit Won’t be held June 12 as it was scheduled to be held,” the Yonhap news agency quoted Mr Moon as saying
In his comments, Mr Trump said he thought that he was creating a”wonderful dialogue” with the guy whom just months ago he mocked as”rocket man” and whose country he threatened to”completely ruin” in a speech in the UN General Assembly.
“Some day I really look forward to meeting you. Meanwhile, I want to thank you for the launch of the hostages that are currently at home with their families,” he said. “This was a gorgeous gesture and was very much valued.”
A number of commentators have voiced worries that preparation for the 12 June summit, that might have represented one of the most significant geopolitical experiences since the end of the Cold War, was progressing too fast. Experts said it may have been more effective to let Mr
Pompeo and his staff to prepare the ground work for the summit, rather than trying to fix a date so soon.
Yet Mr Trump appeared to be caught up in the notion of a breakthrough on a problem, his predecessor, Mr Obama, had warned could be among the toughest challenges he would face during his presidency.
We’ll encourage Trump/US to play the part of a international leader, return to the table, model what it takes to do what everybody wants: peace for Koreans, for our planet.
At the exact same time, the organic show man wanted to pull something no other US president had completed; no more sitting US president has met with both of the 3 members of the Kim dynasty who have ruled North Korea since its creation in 1948.
In Washington, Mr Pompeo advised the Senate foreign relations committee that the lack of reaction was an extra motive for Mr Trump’s decision to call the meeting off. He explained:”We had received no response to our enquiries from them.”
Christine Ahn, a Korea expert and creator of Women Cross DMZ, a global movement of women who has worked for peace on the Korean peninsula, stated from Seoul she wasn’t entirely surprised by developments, given the US’s rhetoric towards North Korea.
She said she believed that there were people within Mr Trump’s government, notably Mr Bolton, who didn’t want the talks to move. Therefore, he’d reversed much of the hard work performed by Mr Pompeo.
“Trump has left open the door, there is still the appetite that there,” she explained. “But he needs to start behaving like a global leader and stop speaking about his weapons.”
Tom Collina, who has worked together with the administrations of Barack Obama, George Bush and Bill Clinton on nuclear non-proliferation and who’s director of policy in the Ploughshares fund, said”diplomacy is the way we are going to address this issue”.
“And, the reasons Trump chose to delay it does not make sense – ostensibly because the North Koreans insulted Vice President Pence – that makes no sense”
The development came as a small group of global media selected by North Korea witnessed the demolition of tunnels at the Punggye-ri website on Thursday, which Pyongyang said was evidence of its commitment to end nuclear testing.
Reuters said the obvious destruction of exactly what North Korea says is its atomic test site has been broadly welcomed as a positive, though largely symbolic, measure towards solving tension over its weapons. North Korean chief Mr Kim has declared his nuclear force complete, amid speculation that the website was obsolete anyway.