President Donald Trump on Thursday issued a pointed letter cancelling the June 12 Singapore nuclear summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un following what he called displays of “tremendous anger and open hostility” by the hermit nation. As The New York Times astutely notes, President Trump emphasizes that the possibility for a meeting is still on the table. In effect, the President did not cancel the meeting so much as he wrote a rain-check… pending the right “weather” conditions. But does Kim Jong Un want a “deal,” potentially a deliverance out of poverty and hermit status for his nation, badly enough to not only ask for it but to behave himself before, during and after a sit down at the negotiating table?
As observed by CNBC, though the released letter was written in a very friendly, personal tone and with deserved praise for the release of three American prisoners.
“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,” Trump wrote.
President Trump also pointedly condemned North Korea for being diplomatically two-faced and alluded to his previous “bigger button” sabre-rattling-by-tweet albeit in kinder words.
“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. He also expressed regret for the cancellation, writing “this missed opportunity is a truly sad moment in history.”
Sadly, I was forced to cancel the Summit Meeting in Singapore with Kim Jong Un. pic.twitter.com/rLwXxBxFKx
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 24, 2018
The letter came less than 24 hours after it was reported that North Korea harshly criticized Vice President Mike Pence as a “political dummy” for “ignorant and stupid” remarks North Korea could end up like Libya without this deal were perceived as beyond the pale and despite North Korea’s alleged display of dismantling a nuclear test site.
Prior to Pence’s remarks National Security Advisor John Bolton during an appearance last week on CBS’ Face The Nation said the U.S. was “looking at the Libya model of 2003, 2004” as a possibility for negotiation terms with North Korea. As opposed to the “Libya model” of 2010 and 2011, the model circa 2003 in the wake of the Iraq invasions rests on the the now deceased-dictator’s olive branch to the West to denuclearize in return for the lifting of sanctions, not being invaded and retaining his (Gaddafi’s) hold on power.
I have decided to terminate the planned Summit in Singapore on June 12th. While many things can happen and a great opportunity lies ahead potentially, I believe that this is a tremendous setback for North Korea and indeed a setback for the world… pic.twitter.com/jT0GfxT0Lc
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 24, 2018
According to reports, the North Korea cancellation letter took the world by surprise, even South Korea’s president Moon Jae-in who has spearheaded diplomatic efforts toward peace and reconciliation between the two Koreas. However, it also comes in the wake of increasing indicators that North Korea was ready to stay true to its historical record and renege on its previously stated commitments to peaceful denuclearization all the while increasing its diplomatic demands, including for the U.S. to cease its joint military exercises with South Korea.
Alas, President Trump is garnering both praise and condemnation along political fault lines for his particularly heavy-handed and personalized brand of diplomacy. Some see Trump’s heavy-handed directness and unpredictability as what it might take to rein in or otherwise corral Kim Jong Un. Others see it as inept and a breach of decorum (and judgment).
Regardless, this letter has assuredly put the pressure and the world’s attention back on North Korea, and namely how Kim Jong Un himself will react, or possibly, overreact. This will in turn determine whether or not President Trump’s own style of diplomacy and deal-making will make or break the foreseeable potential for peace with North Korea.
While Kim Jong Un struggles making decisions that will ultimately if not imminently make or break his starving and impoverished country, President Trump has candidly made clear he will not be coerced into meaningless and now-routine performances by empty threats and sweet nothings when it comes to dealing, or making deals, with North Korea. North Korea has thus far maintained it is America’s decision whether “the U.S. will meet us at a meeting room or encounter us at nuclear-to-nuclear showdown.”
Read the full text of the letter here:
May 24, 2018
Kim Jong Un
Chairman of the State Affairs Commission of the Democractic People’s Republic of Korea
Dear Mr. Chairman:
We greatly appreciate your time, patience, and effort with respect to our recent negotiations and discussions relative to a summit long sought by both parties, which was scheduled to take place on June 12 in Singapore. We were informed that the meeting was requested by North Korea, but that to us is totally irrelevant. I 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. Therefore, please let this letter serve to represent that the Singapore summit, for the good of both parties, but to the detriment of the world, will not take place. 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.
I felt a wonderful dialogue was building up between you and me, and ultimately it is only that dialogue that matters. Some day, I look very much forward to meeting you. In the meantime, 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.
If you change your mind having to do with this most important summit, please do not hesitate to call me or write. The world, and North Korea in particular, has lost a great opportunity for lasting peace and great prosperity and wealth. This missed opportunity is a truly sad moment in history.
Donald J. Trump
President of the United States of America