Tuesday, 14 August, 2018

Japan to keep pressure on N. Korea after scrapped summit

In a personal letter to Kim Trump announced he would not go ahead with the June 12 summit in Singapore following what the White House called a President Donald Trump Cancels North Korea Summit
Eugene Bates | 25 May, 2018, 19:36

Beyond the insults and brinksmanship that contributed to the cancellation of the historic meeting between President Donald Trump and Kim Jong Un was the seeming reluctance from North Korea to actually proceed with plans for the summit, which had been destined to take place in Singapore on June 12.

He said: "We're going to see what happens". It could even be the 12th. We're talking to them now. "It is just a standard negotiation tactic from USA to see how badly North Korea wants this".

It was not immediately confirmed whether the North's leader Kim Jong-un was present at the site during the event.

Vice-Foreign Minister Kim Kye-gwan said Mr Trump's cancellation decision was "extremely regrettable".

South Koreans' perception of North Korea, especially those in their 20s and 30s, has visibly softened after Kim Jong Un and Moon pledged no more war in their inter-Korean summit in April, according to several polls.

The details of the now scrapped talks were unclear. At the end of the meeting, the two declared a commitment to "complete denuclearisation" of the Korean peninsula.

North Korea, which reportedly demolished its Punggye-ri nuclear test site earlier on Thursday, had threatened to pull out of the Singapore summit if the USA continued to demand it gives up its nuclear arsenal unilaterally.

Some analysts see signs of a classic Trump manoeuvre to twist the process to his advantage. The message came after a key aide to Kim hit out at comments from Vice President Mike Pence, saying they were "ignorant and stupid" and warning the talks could be cancelled. "It was a very nice statement they put out".

And Mr Trump added: "Everybody plays games".

Despite hints in recent statements of the old fiery rhetoric from both the USA president and Pyongyang, both sides have left the door open for talks.

Trump wrote in the letter if Kim changes his mind "do not hesitate to call me or write". "Kim's outreach to Seoul and Beijing, where he visited twice with President Xi Jinping, has fractured the pressure campaign and Trump's personal dalliance with Kim has elevated the stature of a brutal, authoritarian regime on the global stage". Hours after North Korea dismantles its nuclear testing ground in front of foreign journalists, Trump announces he's pulling out of his summit with Kim, citing the North's "tremendous anger and open hostility".

But he called the meeting a "missed opportunity", saying "some day, I look very much forward to meeting you".

In a later statement at the White House, Trump said the USA military is "ready if necessary" to respond to a "foolish or reckless act" by North Korea.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, testifying Thursday on Capitol Hill, said North Korea had not responded to repeated requests from USA officials to discuss logistics for the summit.

He was apparently responding to statements from a senior North Korean diplomat attacking his administration and casting doubt over the meeting.

A group of journalists from South Korea, the US, China, Russia and Britain arrived at the remote northeastern area of Punggye-ri around Thursday noon.

Ms Choe, who has been involved in several diplomatic interactions with the United States over the past decade, said the North would not "beg" for dialogue and warned of a "nuclear showdown" if diplomacy failed.

A senior White House official said Pyongyang had demonstrated a "profound lack of good faith" in the run-up to the summit - including standing up the White House's deputy chief of staff, who had travelled to Singapore for preparatory talks. They stressed, however, there was a "backdoor that's open still". This followed suggestions that North Korea might collapse like the former Libyan government if it didn't give up its nuclear arsenal.

Former Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi gave up his nuclear arsenal in negotiations with the West, but he was later overthrown and killed after a North Atlantic Treaty Organisation air intervention that supported rebels on the ground.

Kim Dong-ho, a 38-year-old employee at a blockchain company, said it wasn't right to isolate North Korea again when it was making efforts to join the worldwide community.

Earlier comments by South Korean President Moon Jae-in, seen as a driving force behind the summit and just returned to Seoul from a meeting with Trump in Washington, suggested that the South, a top USA ally and host to 28,500 US troops, was blindsided by Trump's statement.

Speaking after the letter's release, Trump appeared to open the door to the summit continuing, depending on Kim's response to the U.S. demand to give up nuclear weapons.

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