“The world, and North Korea in particular, has lost a great opportunity for lasting peace and great prosperity and wealth,” the White House wrote in a letter to North Korean leader Kim Jong Un which was posted to President Trump’s Twitter page Thursday morning. “This missed opportunity is truly a sad moment in history.”
On Thursday, May 24th, 2018 President Trump cancelled what would have been a historic first meeting between North Korea and a sitting American president. The summit was set for June 12th in Singapore.
Why was the meeting important?
Aside from the historical significance of the sitting United States President meeting with North Korean leaders, the summit was important because it would have been an opportunity to discuss and potentially negotiate the denuclearization of North Korea. In 2003 North Korea declared that it had nuclear weapons and in the past year, tensions between North Korea and the U.S. have rapidly risen following several successful nuclear tests into the ocean.
Why did the President cancel the meeting?
“I was very much looking forward to meeting with you,” the letter states. “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 the long planned meeting.”
Mike Pence made dark, prophetic remarks on Monday on Fox News about what would happen to North Korea if a denuclearization deal was not made during the summit. He also referenced the Libiya Model which contains deeply negative connotations for a country seeking to make a deal with the United States about nuclear weapons.
NPR explained the Libya Model this way: “several years after the U.S. persuaded Libya to give up its program - nuclear program in 2003, the government was toppled, and its leader, Moammar Gadhafi, was brutally killed by rebel forces.” Needless to say, North Korea was not pleased to hear Mike Pence make such comments on air to the American people and the world.
The “most recent statement” the letter refers to is a statement made by North Korea's vice-foreign minister Choe Son Hui in response to Mike Pence, which reads: “At an interview with Fox News on May 21, US Vice-President Pence made unbridled and impudent remarks that North Korea might end like Libya, military option for North Korea never came off the table, the US needs complete, verifiable and irreversible denuclearisation, and so on.” She said that these remarks made by Mike Pence were cause for North Korea to reconsider the summit. She further describes Mike Pence as a “political dummy.”
“To borrow their words, we can also make the U.S. taste an appalling tragedy it has neither experienced nor even imagined up to now,” said Choe Son Hui. “Before making such reckless threatening remarks without knowing exactly who he is facing, Pence should have seriously considered the terrible consequences of his words.”
The summit will, for now, remain only a concept.