Trump Calls Summit Cancellation A 'Tremendous Setback'
WASHINGTON - President Trump has cancelled the upcoming summit between the United States and the North Koreans in a new letter released on Thursday. Mr. Trump writes in the letter that he 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."
He also told Kim in the letter, "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."
Singapore ministry "regrets" cancellation
Singapore's Ministry of Foreign Affairs tweeted that they "regret" that the scheduled summit "will no longer take place on 12 June 2018. Singapore hopes that the dialogue and efforts to find lasting peace and stability on the Korean Peninsula will continue."
Trump calls dialogue with Kim "wonderful"
Mr. Trump continued to commend Kim Jong Un for engaging in a "wonderful dialogue" with the U.S. despite the president calling off the June talks. He said that North Korea still wants to do what's right.
He suggested the leaders have had a good working relationship, noting the successful return of American hostages. "We didn't have to pay, we wouldn't have paid," he added.
The president also suggested that dialogue with the North Koreans was "very good until recently." He said he thinks he understands what went wrong, but declined to explain it. "Someday, I'll give it to you, you can write about it in a book," he told the press.
Trump calls summit cancellation a "tremendous setback"
Speaking from the White House, President Trump called the summit's cancellation a "tremendous setback" for the North Koreans and the world alike. He held open the possibility that the cancelled summit might still take place at a later date.
"Nobody should be anxious, we have to get it right," Mr. Trump said.
His message to Kim: "I am waiting", adding that current economic sanctions and the administration's maximum pressure campaign will continue. "I hope that Kim Jong Un will ultimately do what is right, not only for himself, but perhaps most importantly what's right for his people, who are suffering greatly and needlessly," the president said.
Mr. Trump noted that he had spoken to his military chiefs, including Department of Defense Secretary James Mattis, and suggested that the U.S. stands "ready if necessary."
The president said that he had also spoken to officials in South Korea and Japan, where they communicated that they are ready should "foolish or reckless acts" be taken by North Korea in response to the summit's cancellation. He said that the countries are also "willing to shoulder much of the cost of any financial burden and the costs associated by the U.S. in operations if such an unfortunate situation is forced upon us."
"We are more ready than we have ever been before," Mr. Trump said. When asked if calling off the meeting raised the risk of war, the president replied "Well, we'll see what happens."
Congressional reaction today on Trump cancelling summit
Reaction from Capitol Hill to the North Korea summit cancellation was swift. House Speaker Paul Ryan said in a statement that the U.S. must "continue to work with our allies toward a peaceful resolution, but that will require a much greater degree of seriousness from the Kim regime."
House Foreign Relations Chairman Ed Royce, said that the Trump administration should "continue to look for opportunities while applying maximum diplomatic and financial pressure against Kim Jong Un."
Sen. Tom Cotton, R-Arkansas, commended the president for "seeing through Kim Jong Un's fraud." He added, "As I have long said, our maximum-pressure campaign on North Korea must continue."
Sen. Bill Nelson, D-Florida, meanwhile placed blame on the administration, writing "The cancellation of this summit reveals the lack of preparation on the part of President Trump in dealing with a totalitarian dictator like Kim Jong Un. We've seen similar lack of preparation by the president in dealing with the leaders of China and Russia."
Senate minority leader Chuck Schumer responded on the senate floor, saying "The fear many of us had was that the summit between President Trump and Kim Jong-Un would be a great show that produced nothing enduring."
He added, "If a summit is to be reconstituted, the United States must show strength and achieve a concrete, verifiable, enduring elimination of Kim Jong-Un's nuclear capabilities."
Pompeo on summit cancellation
During questioning before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Pompeo told lawmakers that he was part of the discussions last night and this morning that led to the decision by Mr. Trump to cancel the summit.
Pompeo would not tell the committee whether the administration had informed South Korea that the summit would be cancelled before the letter was released, but he said that the U.S. and South Korea are in "lockstep."
He said he hopes that the parties will be able to return to where they were "six, eight, twelve weeks ago," and he expressed confidence that this would be laid out in "some detail" in the coming days.
WH official on summit cancellation
There were reports that the North's reaction to Pence's comments prompted the cancellation of the summit, but a White House official told CBS News' Jacqueline Alemany that there was too much focus on that, and the more salient development was that the North Koreans had threatened nuclear war against the American people in their statement Wednesday night.
Pompeo testifies before Senate after North Korea meeting news
Meanwhile, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is answering questions from the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on the administration's foreign policy goals after testifying before the House Foreign Relations Committee one day before for over 3 hours. He started the hearing by reading the president's letter to Kim Jong-Un. Later he told lawmakers that America was "ready" for the summit with North Korea.
"We're rockin, we're ready. President Trump was prepared for this meeting. We were fully engaged to prepare for this meeting," Pompeo said.
He added when asked about the reasoning behind the cancellation, "I regret the statements that North Koreans have made over the past few days and the fact that we have not been able to conduct the preparation between our two teams that would be necessary to have a chance for a successful summit."
Pompeo added that between the direct talks he had with Kim, he believed the offer he brought to Kim was serious and that Kim believed it was a sincere effort.
"Over the past many days, we have endeavored to do what Kim and I agreed, to put teams together to prepare to work for summit and we received no response from them," he added.
North Korea nuclear test site destroyed Thursday
Just Thursday, North Korea announced it had destroyed its Punggye-ri nuclear test site. The planned dismantling was previously announced by North Korean leader Kim Jong Un ahead of the now-cancelled summit meeting with President Trump.
North Korean officials brought about two dozen international journalists to the testing area, in the northeast part of the country. CBS News correspondent Ben Tracy was the only U.S. broadcast network correspondent on hand to witness several large explosions at Punggye-ri. He was among about two dozen international journalists who had been brought to the site to witness what the North said was the decommissioning of the nuclear test site.
Trump keeps door open for new meeting
Mr. Trump also wrote to Kim Jong-Un he felt a "wonderful dialogue was building you and me," and continued, "Some day, I look very much forward to meeting you." He thanked Kim for the recent release of three American hostages, calling it a "beautiful gesture and was very much appreciated."
"If you change your mind having to do with this most important summit," he adds, "please do not hesitate to call me or write."
North Korea's comments to Pence
The letter's mention of "tremendous anger and open hostility" appear to refer to insults from the North Koreans directed at Vice President Pence.
North Korean Vice-Minister of Foreign Affairs Choe Son Hui, quoted by the state-run news agency, said of Pence Thursday, "I cannot suppress my surprise at such ignorant and stupid remarks gushing out from the mouth of the US vice-president."
Pence in a separate interview with Fox News on Wednesday, seemed to threaten the North. "You know, as the president made clear, this will only end like the Libyan model ended if Kim Jong-un doesn't make a deal."