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- The White House dodged questions on Thursday as to whether it notified South Korea and Japan ahead of time about President Donald Trump’s decision to cancel a highly anticipated meeting with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.
- “I think South Koreans were well informed by the president about the growing skepticism” surrounding the meeting, the official said.
- His answers were vague and seemed to contradict reports that South Korea was completely blindsided by the announcement.
The White House dodged questions on Thursday as to whether it notified South Korea and Japan ahead of time about President Donald Trump’s decision to cancel a highly anticipated meeting with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.
A senior White House official told reporters that Trump had made it known to South Korean President Moon Jae-in that he was “skeptical” of what could come of the talks as Moon visited Washington earlier this week.
“I think South Koreans were well informed by the president about the growing skepticism” surrounding the meeting, the official said.
The official further claimed that White House officials were in contact with South Korean and Japanese officials Thursday morning. But his answers were vague and seemed to contradict reports that South Korea was completely blindsided by the announcement.
After the White House publicized the letter Trump sent to Kim cancelling the meeting, it was reported that Moon called an emergency meeting to discuss the development. Moreover, shortly after the announcement, Moon’s spokesman Kim Eui-kyeom said, “We are attempting to make sense of what, precisely, President Trump means.”
This suggests the White House did not communicate with Seoul in a particular or deliberate manner about Trump’s plans to scrap the summit.
Furthermore, earlier this morning Trump claimed he’d spoken to South Korea and Japan, but this contradicts the official’s assertion that communications with these countries occurred “just below” the presidential level.
Meanwhile, the senior White House official defended Trump’s decision and said it was due to a “trail of broken promises” from North Korea that Trump decided to scrap the meeting.
This included the fact that North Korea recently objected to a joint military exercise between the US and South Korea despite pledging to tolerate such drills back in March.
The White House official also claimed that North Korea did not show up for planned meetings in Singapore to go over the details of the summit.
“The North Koreans didn’t tell us anything, they simply stood us up,” he said.
North Korea also broke a promise to allow international experts to witness the destruction of its nuclear test site, the White House official said, and only allowed journalists to observe the process. This makes it difficult to verify whether the site is indeed no longer useable or could quickly be made operational again.
Additionally, the official said North Korea has ignored communications from Washington.
“The US has over the past week made numerous attempts to communicate with the North Koreans but they have not responded,” he said.
Finally, North Korea’s threat of a “nuclear showdown” and insults toward Vice President Mike Pence were the last straw for the White House, the official added.
Trump suggested the summit could still occur in Singapore on June 12 or a later date if North Korea changes its attitude. When questioned about this by reporters on Thursday afternoon and what would need to occur for the summit to be salvaged, the senior White House official said the Trump administration would “need to see the opposite of what we’ve seen over the past couple of days” from North Korea.