- REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque
- President Donald Trump canceled his planned summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un because he believed Kim would cancel first, US officials said in an NBC News report published on Thursday.
- Trump was reportedly concerned that the US would look desperate if North Korea backed out first, and so he beat them to the punch.
- Trump’s abrupt decision took lawmakers and allies, including South Korean President Moon Jae-in, by surprise.
- National security adviser John Bolton, who is seen as hawkish on matters of foreign policy, was reportedly instrumental in persuading Trump to pull out of the planned meeting.
President Donald Trump took North Korea’s recent provocative statements into account when he canceled his planned summit with that country’s leader Kim Jong Un. Trump believed Kim would cancel the meeting first, US officials said, according to NBC News.
“There was no hint of this yesterday,” a US official familiar with the summit preparations told NBC News.
Trump reportedly began seriously considering withdrawing from the summit on Wednesday and consulted with Vice President Mike Pence, secretary of state Mike Pompeo, chief of staff John Kelly, and national security adviser John Bolton. The president also spoke with defense secretary Jim Mattis on Thursday morning.
Trump eventually released a letter addressed to Kim on Thursday morning, citing what he described as Pyongyang’s “tremendous anger and open hostility” in its recent public statements. North Korea sent out heated missives in response to controversial remarks from Pence and Bolton on the fate of the North Korean regime.
According to a Washington Post report, Trump was reportedly worried that North Korea would back out of the meeting first, and in an effort to prevent the US from looking desperate, he beat them to the punch.
“I was very much looking foward to being there with you,” Trump said in the letter.
Trump’s abrupt decision took lawmakers and allies, including South Korean President Moon Jae-in, by surprise. It also contradicted a letter from the State Department on the constructive talks Pompeo was having with other Asian leaders ahead of the summit, which was sent nearly two hours before the Trump’s letter to Kim.
Pompeo has taken a prime role in US-North Korean diplomatic relations, after he traveled to North Korea and helped secure the release of three Korean-American prisoners. But according to some US officials, Bolton, who is viewed as a hawkish policy advisor, clashed with some of Pompeo’s ideas and floated the notion of scuttling the Trump-Kim meeting.
Following Trump’s decision, North Korean officials released a statement saying they were still willing to meet with the US to “resolve issues anytime and in any format.”
“I want to conclude that President Trump’s stance on the North-US summit does not meet the world’s desire for peace and stability both in the world and on the Korean Peninsula,” a North Korean official said.