The meeting between President Trump and Kim Jong-un has been called off. Thursday he pulled out of a highly anticipated meeting with the North Korean leader, accusing the North Koreans of bad faith and stating that “this missed opportunity is a truly sad moment in history.” President Trump stated that the North’s most recent statements have shown “tremendous anger and open hostility.”
But not all might be lost. President Trump said later that the meeting, which had been scheduled for June 12 in Singapore, could still happen, and North Korea issued a thoughful response, saying it hoped President Trump would reconsider. On Friday, President Trump tweeted early in the morning: “Very good news to receive the warm and productive statement from North Korea. We will soon see where it will lead, hopefully to long and enduring prosperity and peace. Only time (and talent) will tell!”
In days leading up to this, Trump hinted that there was a “very substantial chance” a meeting with North Korea’s Kim Jong-un next month may not happen. He said North Korea must meet conditions for the meeting to go ahead, though if it did not, it might happen “later.”
President Trump made the comments while meeting with South Korea’s President Moon Jae-in at the White House. The North Koreans have said they may eliminate the meeting if the US asserts on them abolishing their nuclear weapons. President Trump did not say what conditions the US had planned for the meeting but, asked by a reporter about the North’s arsenal, he said: “denuclearization must take place.”
The early good feelings between the two leaders seemed to have worn off, as they are started to remember their differences. Kim wants his nukes and has spent decades developing them. Some nice words from the US might not be enough for him to give this all up. He saw what happened with the Iran deal. Maybe he’s looking to the future and thinking about possible hostility by another administration and can’t see himself surviving without nukes.
The first sign of trouble came when Kim made a visit to China earlier this month to meet President Xi and said he was aiming for a “phased and synchronous” process that would offer North Korea step-by-step rewards for renouncing its nuclear program. The White House is telling the North Koreans they will get loads of US private-sector investment only once the nuclear program is eliminated.
But national security adviser John Bolton, who has a track record of going against pretty much all foreign policy the Alt-Right wants, seems to have played a role in all of this. He said on television he thinks a Libya-style plan would be great for the North. The Libya strategy ended with Libya’s dictator, Muammar Gadhafi, being killed in an uprising after a NATO-led air operation in 2011. This took place after Gadhafi voluntarily gave up his nuclear weapons. It’s hard to blame Kim for being a little worried about that comment by Bolton.
Ultimately, this friction was enough to prevent the two countries from reaching the deadline smoothly. But, with both countries seemingly still open to meeting, this isn’t the last chapter.