USA President Donald Trump has nixed plans to attend a long-awaited summit with North Korea next month, the White House announced in a statement on Thursday.
Later, the president addressed the cancelation during a signing ceremony with congressional Republicans visiting the White House.
“I’ve decided to terminate the summit,” he declared, adding that the US military and its regional partners, South Korea and Japan, would be ready to respond if North Korea reacted recklessly or foolishly.
The decision was officially announced earlier in a signed statement from President Trump, addressed directly to “His Excellency” Kim Jong Un, the North Korean leader.
In his remarks, Trump described the turn of events as a “tremendous setback” for North Korea and for the rest of the world.
“I was very much looking forward to being there with you,” Trump said in the White House statement. “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.”
“I hope that Kim Jong Un will ultimately do what is right, not only for himself, but perhaps, most importantly, what’s right for his people who are suffering greatly and needlessly,” Trump added.
The move follows a strong rebuke from a North Korean official who described recent remarks from Vice President Mike Pence as “stupid” and referred to Pence as a “political dummy.”
In an interview with Fox News, Pence had indicated North Korea “may end like Libya.”
Trump’s statement calls the cancellation the best move for both the United States and North Korea. Yet, he also described it as a “the detriment of the world.”
“The world, and North Korea in particular, has lost a great opportunity for lasting peace and great prosperity and wealth,” the statement read. “This missed opportunity is a truly sad moment in history.”
The president also thanked Kim for the recent dialogue between the two nations and for releasing the three American hostages, which he called a “beautiful gesture.”
Still, Trump left open the possibility of restarting the talks, declaring that he’s waiting should Kim wish to come back to the table.
The historic meeting was scheduled for June 12 in Singapore and involved weeks of secret high-level discussions between the US and officials from Pyongyang.
Mr. Trump also reasserted that “maximum pressure” and sanctions will continue and included a veiled threat to the North Korean regime and its nuclear pursuits.
“You talk about your nuclear capabilities, but ours are so massive and powerful that I pray to God they will never be used,” he warned.