Washington: In a surprise move, US President Donald Trump today cancelled his proposed summit meeting with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un on June 12 in Singapore and blamed Pyongyang's "tremendous anger" and "open hostility" for his decision.
Trump's announcement came hours after North Korea carried out what it said is the demolition of its nuclear test site today. "I was very much looking forward to being there with you. 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," Trump wrote in a letter to Kim which was released to the press.
"Therefore, please let this letter serve to represent that the Singapore summit, for the good of both parties, but to the detriment of the world, will not take place," Trump said in his letter dated May 24.
"You talk about your nuclear capabilities, but ours are so massive and powerful that I pray to God they will never have to be used," he said, in an apparent warning to the North Korean leader.
Washington has made it clear it wants to see the "complete, verifiable and irreversible denuclearisation" of the North. But Pyongyang has vowed it will never give up its nuclear deterrence until it feels safe from what it terms US aggression.
"I felt a wonderful dialogue was building up between you and me, and ultimately, it is only that dialogue that matters. Someday, I look very much forward to meeting you," wrote the US President. Trump, however, kept the door open for future talks with Kim.
"If you change your mind having to do with this most important summit, please do not hesitate to call me or write. The world, and North Korea in particular, has lost a great opportunity for lasting peace and great prosperity and wealth. This missed opportunity is a truly sad moment in history," Trump said.
He also thanked Kim for the release of the three American hostages who are now home with their families in the US.
"That was a beautiful gesture and was very much appreciated," he said.
The Americans -- Kim Dong Chul, Kim Hak-song and Kim Sang Duk, also known as Tony Kim -- were freed on May 9 by North Korea while Secretary of State Mike Pompeo was on a visit to Pyongyang to finalise the details of the Trump-Kim summit.
The trio had been jailed for anti-state activities and placed in North Korean labour camps. In his letter, Trump appreciated the North Korean leader for his efforts towards the meeting. "We greatly appreciate your time, patience, and effort with respect to our recent negotiations and discussions relative to a summit long sought by both parties, which was scheduled to take place on June 12 in Singapore. We were informed that the meeting was requested by North Korea, but that to us is totally irrelevant," he said.
In April, Trump had stunned the world by accepting an invitation to meet Kim in an unprecedented sit-down.
Trump and Kim had previously traded insults and threats. The summit would have been the first ever meeting between a sitting US president and North Korean leader. Trump's announcement today coincides with North Korea's move to demolish its underground nuclear test site deep in the mountains of the sparsely populated northeast.
Earlier, North Korea's vice-minister of Foreign Affairs Choe Son Hui slammed a media interview in which US Vice President Mike Pence warned Kim that it would be a "great mistake" to try and play Trump. Pence also said North Korea could end up like Libya, whose former leader Muammar Gaddafi was killed by US-backed rebels years after giving up atomic weapons, "if Kim doesn't make a deal".
"I cannot suppress my surprise at such ignorant and stupid remarks gushing out from the mouth of the US vice-president," Choe said in a statement released by the state-run KCNA news agency. "We will neither beg the US for dialogue nor take the trouble to persuade them if they do not want to sit together with us," she said, adding she would recommend Kim cancel the talks if Washington continues to make such threats.