By J.V. Lakshmana Rao
An angry US President Donald Trump, who on May 24 announced cancellation of the June 12 summit with North Korean Chairman Kim Jong Un, softened to welcome Kim’s “promising response” and declared on May 25: “We’re talking to them now about putting it back on track… Everybody plays games, … they very much want to do it, we’d like to do it.” This gives a hope that the summit could take place on the originally planned date, June 12 in Singapore.
In response to Trump’s letter on May 24, North Korea responded on May 25, and in a friendly tone it issued a statement saying it was still “willing to give the US time and opportunities” to reconsider talks “at any time, at any format.”
The exchange of communications between the US and North Korea were warmer on May 25 and North Korea’s Vice Foreign Minister Kim Kye Gwan called Trump’s withdrawal “unexpected” and “very regrettable,” and said the cancellation of the talks showed “how grave the status of historically deep-rooted hostile North Korea-US relations is and how urgently a summit should be realized to improve ties.”
In response, Trump said that it was “very good news,” and “we will soon see where it will lead, hopefully to long and enduring prosperity and peace. Only time (and talent) will tell.”
Trump voluntarily announced in March that he was ready for a summit with North Korean leader if he so desires. But as a caution Trump also forewarned that he would walk out and call off the summit if Kim does not cooperate.
When, Kim welcomed the Trump’s offer for summit, as a part of quick follow-up action, Trump’s high-ranking officials made a series of visits to Pyongyan for talks with Kim and his senior officials to plan for the summit aimed at defusing North Korea’s nuclear standoff and demilitarizing the Korean Peninsula. A historic event also followed on April 27, when Kim crossed the border with South Korea and held talks at “truce village” with South Korean President Moon Joe-in. They both signed a high sounding and ambitious joint declaration which seemed that peace is on the way in the Korean Peninsula. Kim also made a quick visit to Beijing seeking advice of Chinese President Xi Jinping.
Finally June 12 as the date for Trump-Kim summit has been set and Singapore has been chosen for the summit.
Everything looked very bright and hopeful when Kim set free three American prisoners and sent them back with visiting US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo during his visit to North Korea earlier this month.
The happenings and the utterances of aides of both Trump and Kim during the past week have led to bitterness between the two leaders.
Trump’s decision of calling off the summit has stemmed from the hostile warnings from North Korea that it was reconsidering participation, including a statement that the United States must decide whether to “meet us in a meeting room or encounter us at nuclear-to-nuclear showdown.”
Trump took strong objection when a political aide of Kim called US Vice President Mike Pence a “political dummy” in retaliation to Pence’s remarks in a television interview that made reference to the downfall of the late Libyan leader Moammar Gaddafi. In a crucial time like this, Pence should not have made such remarks.
Most recently a North Korea’s Senior Envoy for US Affairs is stated to have threatened the US that if the planned summit is cancelled, Pyongyan could “make the US taste an appalling tragedy it has neither experienced nor even imagined.” Such a threat from the North Korean official to the US has been uncalled for when preparations for the summit have in progress.
Thus mutual trust has been shattered by unwanted remarks made on either side leading to the cancellation of the summit.
Writing a letter on May 24 to Kim informing him cancellation of the summit, Trump said: “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.” However, Trump thanked Kim for releasing the three American prisoners.
But on May 25, the friendly response from Kim softened Trump and it is hoped that Trump-Kim summit will take place on the scheduled date of June 12, in Singapore. It is hoped the outcome of the summit will lead to much-needed peace in the Korean Peninsula.
By J.V. Lakshmana Rao