Trump Cancels Summit With North Korean Leader Kim Jong Un : The Two-Way "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.
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Trump Cancels Summit With North Korean Leader Kim Jong Un

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Trump Cancels Summit With North Korean Leader Kim Jong Un

Trump Cancels Summit With North Korean Leader Kim Jong Un

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ARI SHAPIRO, HOST:

The long-awaited summit between President Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un is off. President Trump canceled those plans today. He was supposed to meet Kim in Singapore next month. The White House hoped that would be a step towards ending North Korea's nuclear program. Trump says he scrapped the meeting because of hostile and angry rhetoric coming from North Korea recently. The move leaves the future of Trump's nuclear diplomacy in doubt, as NPR's Scott Horsley reports.

SCOTT HORSLEY, BYLINE: In a one-page letter to the North Korean leader that he personally dictated and in later comments to reporters, Trump sounded genuinely disappointed to be backing out of his meeting with Kim. The president called it a missed opportunity and a truly sad moment in history.

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PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: I believe that this is a tremendous setback for North Korea and indeed a setback for the world.

HORSLEY: Trump left the door open to rescheduling the summit, though, at some point in the future. He said he'd felt he'd been building a wonderful dialogue with the North Korean leader. And he told Kim, if you change your mind, please don't hesitate to call or write.

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TRUMP: If and when Kim Jong Un chooses to engage in constructive dialogue and actions, I am waiting.

HORSLEY: It was just 2 1/2 months ago that Trump impulsively accepted Kim's invitation to this summit. And in the weeks that followed, Trump steadily built expectations. He and his supporters talked about a Nobel Peace Prize for the president, a military office at the White House, even commissioned a commemorative coin. Georgetown professor Victor Cha, who helped oversee Korea policy in the Bush administration, says in the end, the stakes may have grown too high for the president, who believes an important tool of negotiation is the willingness to walk away.

VICTOR CHA: The president I don't think ever wants to be in a position where he walks into a meeting where he wants the negotiation more than his counterpart. At least that's the way he's written about it in the past in "Art Of The Deal" and other places.

HORSLEY: For weeks, Kim also seemed eager for the summit. He even released three Korean-American prisoners in a goodwill gesture. Trump thanked Kim for that in his letter today, but he also complained about the increasingly bellicose rhetoric coming out of Pyongyang in recent days. Trump says military forces in the U.S., South Korea and Japan are on alert for any, quote, "foolish or reckless actions North Korea might take."

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TRUMP: We are more ready than we have ever been before.

HORSLEY: Trump says for now the U.S. will maintain tough economic sanctions against North Korea. His letter also included some of the same my-nuclear-button-is-bigger-than-yours tone that characterized his earlier interactions with Kim. Speaking at a disarmament conference in Geneva today, U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said he's deeply concerned by the cancellation of the Trump-Kim summit. And Kelsey Davenport, who directs nonproliferation policy at the Arms Control Association, says the Trump administration is partly to blame. She suggests national security adviser John Bolton and others poisoned the atmosphere for the meeting with comparisons to Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi, who was ultimately overthrown and murdered eight years after surrendering his own nuclear program.

KELSEY DAVENPORT: Loose talk of decimating the country if it doesn't reach a deal, the talk of the Libya model - you know, all of that, you know, played into, you know, North Korea's harsh reaction to the messaging coming out of Washington.

HORSLEY: The top Democrat on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee also complains that the administration had not adequately prepared for the summit or assessed Kim's willingness to disarm. That argument was rejected by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.

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MIKE POMPEO: I think the American team is fully prepared. I think we're rocking. I think we're ready.

HORSLEY: But a senior White House official says U.S. preparations were met with a trail of broken promises by the North Koreans. Last weekend, a White House team traveled to Singapore for a scheduled meeting to work out logistics for the summit. Their North Korean counterparts never showed. Scott Horsley, NPR News, Washington.

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