Trump cancels summit with Kim Jong-un

By Liu Xin and Yang Sheng Source:Global Times Published: 2018/5/24 23:03:40

Change of mind attributed to ‘open hostility’ of N. Korea

Mannequins of South Korean soldiers stand before a guard post open to visitors, beside the barbed wire fence of the Demilitarized Zone between North and South Korea on Ganghwa island on Thursday. North Korea has dismantled its Punggye-ri nuclear test site, media invited to attend the ceremony said. Photo: AFP

US President Donald Trump on Thursday called off a planned summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, even after North Korea followed through on a pledge to blow up tunnels at its nuclear test site.

Analysts said the abrupt move could dampen US ties with South Korea and hurt Trump's political prestige and mid-term elections.

Referring to a scheduled June 12 meeting with Kim in Singapore, Trump said in a letter to the North Korean leader: "Sadly, based on the tremendous anger and open hostility displayed in your most recent statement, I feel it would be inappropriate, at this time, to have this long- planned meeting."

"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," Trump wrote in his letter to Kim.

Trump called it "a missed opportunity" and said someday he still hoped to meet Kim.

"I want to thank you for the release of the hostages who are now home with their families. That was a beautiful gesture and was very much appreciated."

 Lü Chao, a research fellow at the Liaoning Academy of Social Sciences, told the Global Times that suspending the summit would do no good to the US, especially after withdrawing from the Iran nuclear deal.

The US once again went back on its word and its ties with South Korea will be affected, Lü said, adding that the decision would also damage Trump's political prestige and affect his mid-term elections.

The US decision to back off from the summit also gave North Korea something to talk about and be understood by the international community, especially after it publicly dismantled the nuclear site on Thursday.

"North Korea may accuse the US of having no sincerity on talks but it may not easily break promises on denuclearization," Lü said, adding that even after the US made an unreasonable decision to call off the summit, there is still a chance that the two leaders would hold a summit in the future.

Hardliner presssure

Earlier on Thursday, North Korea repeated a threat to pull out of the unprecedented summit with Trump next month and warned it was prepared for a nuclear showdown with Washington, if necessary.

In a statement released by North Korean media, Vice Foreign Minister Choe Son-hui had called US Vice President Mike Pence a "political dummy" for comparing North Korea to Libya, where Muammar Gaddafi gave up his unfinished nuclear development program, only to be later killed by NATO-backed fighters.

A small group of international media selected by North Korea witnessed the demolition of tunnels at the Punggye-ri site on Thursday, which Pyongyang says is proof of its commitment to end nuclear testing.

The apparent destruction of what North Korea says is its only nuclear test site has been widely welcomed as a positive step toward resolving tensions over its weapons.

Cheng Xiaohe, an associate professor at the Renmin University of China's School of International Studies, told the Global Times on Thursday that the quarrels between the US and North Korea had poisoned the atmosphere of the Trump-Kim summit.

"Trump wants to protect himself from a possible outcome that the Singapore summit may be futile. By canceling this summit after North Korea dismantled its nuclear test site, he increased pressure on North Korea," Cheng said.

Lü said US hardliners may have pressured Trump into calling off the summit with Kim.

These hardliners thought North Korea has not yet made enough compromises before the summit and should dismantle its nuclear facilities completely and ship them to the US, which seems unreasonable, he said.

The US has always had a misunderstanding that its previous military pressure had worked on making the North give in, Lü said.

Newspaper headline: Trump cancels Kim summit

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