What started out as a promising sign of lasting peace in the Korean Peninsula as well as easing global fears of a nuclear war has ended with a one-page letter terminating a historic summit less than a month from now.
United States President Donald Trump has taken the initiative to cancel the planned summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un. The summit was scheduled to take place in Singapore on June 12.
President Trump used the opening section of the letter to thank Kim for his intent to pursue peaceful initiatives and for considering denuclearization. However, the President wasted no time in identifying Kim as the reason why the summit had to be cancelled:
“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. 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. 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.”
President Trump concluded the paragraph with a veiled warning to Kim:
“You talk about your nuclear capabilities, but ours are so massive and powerful that I pray to God they will never be used.”
The “tremendous anger and open hostility” President Trump alluded to was North Korea’s initial threat of cancelling the summit if the United States insisted on what the regime referred to as “unilateral nuclear abandonment.”
North Korea’s Vice Foreign Minister, Kim Kye-kwan was particularly offended when Trump’s national security adviser, John Bolton, suggest North Korea follow the “Libya model” for nuclear disarmament. According to Kim, North Korea would never end up like Libya which he described as having met a “miserable fate at the hands of big powers”.
Kim likewise did not hide his disdain for Bolton:
“North Korea had shed light on the quality of Bolton and we do not hide our feelings of repugnance towards him.”
President Trump has always prided himself in being an excellent negotiator. Political analysts believe Kim Jong-un’s change in tone was nothing more than posturing; a way of gaining an advantage over the man who wrote the book on “The Art of the Deal”.
Negotiation is like a chess game where the opposing player looks to capitalize on miscalculations and attain a stronger position for his/her pieces. Is President Trump calling Kim’s bluff?
For now, it is Kim’s next move. As the world watches with bated breath, we can’t help but consider “what could have been” had the summit pushed through. What seemed to be historic has become further evidence on the historical failure between both nations to agree on a summit for peace.