President Trump planned to move ahead with his North Korean nuclear summit even after Kim Jong-un’s negotiators blew off a White House deputy chief of staff and other U.S. officials last week in Singapore.
A senior administration official told reporters on Thursday that Joe Hagin, the deputy chief of staff for operations, and other members of the White House advance team were ‘stood up’ by the North Koreans at a previously scheduled meeting to discuss the logistics of the summit.
‘They waited, and they waited. The North Koreans never showed up. The North Koreans didn’t tell us anything. They simply stood us up,’ the official said.
But it was only after North Korea issued a statement alluding to a ‘nuclear showdown’ that the talks were cancelled, the official admitted, telling DailyMail.com, ‘I think that we’ve been willing to give the North Koreans every opportunity within reason to consummate this meeting between the two leaders.’
‘It was one of, one of several cuts that led to the president’s decision this morning.’
President Trump planned to move ahead with his nuclear summit with Kim Jong-un even after North Korean negotiators stood up a White House deputy chief of staff and other U.S. officials last week in Singapore
A senior administration official told reporters on Thursday that Joe Hagin, the deputy chief of staff for operations, and other members of the White House advance team were ‘stood up’ by the North Koreans at a previously scheduled meeting to discuss the logistics of the summit
The official refused to go on the record in order to let the president’s remarks on the matter stand but offered reporters at the White House information on background on what led to the cancellation this morning of the June 12 summit.
‘Some of the work to prepare for the summit was halted because we simply couldn’t get them to pick up the phone at a certain point,’ the official said of North Korea’s behavior in the lead-up to this morning announcement. ‘The radio silence precluded the opportunity to do some some of that preparation work in in advance of the two sitting down.’
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo this morning offered a similar status update as he testified this morning before lawmakers in the U.S. Senate.
The North Korean government completely ignored the Trump administration’s efforts to nail down details of the planned nuclear arms summit in Singapore, effectively disappearing in the middle of pre-meeting protocol negotiations, Pompeo said.
Pompeo, who had met personally in April with Kim in Pyongyang to sketch out the contours of the face-to-face, said in testimony during a Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing that there was no chance of ‘a successful outcome,’ in some part because Kim’s team was AWOL when it counted.
‘Over the past many days we have endeavored to do what Chairman Kim and I had agreed, [which] was to put teams, preparation teams together, to begin to work to prepare for the summit,’ he told senators. ‘And we had received no response to our inquiries from them.’
U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo told a Senate panel on Thursday that North Korea’s government disappeared at a crucial point in pre-summit negotiations
Kim Jong-un (pictured, 2nd left) and Donald Trump were to meet June 12 in Singapore for nuclear disarmament talks
Trump called off the meeting Thursday morning in a letter to Kim
Instead of engaging with the White House, Kim lashed out at Mike Pence following the U.S. vice president’s comments hinting that North Korea could face the same fate as Libya if it doesn’t disarm.
In a letter to Kim calling off the Singapore summit, Trump cited ‘the tremendous anger and open hostility displayed in your most recent statement.’
‘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,’ the president wrote.
A senior official offered a number of reasons that went above and beyond what Trump had detailed in the letter for the stalled talks.
The official said the statement that insulted Pence and threatened a ‘nuclear showdown’ if the meeting was abandoned was one of them.
‘I can say that was one of the pretty odd judgement calls on the part of North Korean officials to attack the vice president and it wasn’t the only odd judgement call reflected in that letter,’ the official said. ‘It wasn’t helpful – I can tell you that.’
North Korea’s complaints about routine military exercises between the U.S. and South Korea also constituted a ‘broken promise’ because Kim’s regime knew that the annual event would happen, the official said.
Even the North’s demolition of a nuclear site today in advance of Trump’s letter was called into question by the Trump administration, given that Pompeo and international inspectors were not invited.
Trump yesterday told DailyMail.com that he’d know by ‘next week’ whether he’d go to Singapore for talks with Kim.
The senior official who spoke to reporters said Thursday afternoon, ‘The president was briefed by his staff last night on this statement that came in. The president took it in stride and stepped on.
‘And he gathered his national security team together this morning and with the vice president, the chief of staff, he spoke with Secretary Pompeo and John Bolton and after considering it he dictated his letter.’
In the Senate hearing, Pompeo asked for patience while the State Department tries to jump-start negotiations.
‘I am going to reserve some space for us to be able to conduct these discussions outside of the public sphere. I think that’s important,’ he said.
Pompeo insisted that Trump’s team stands ready to come back to the negotiating table if North Korea abandons the silent treatment.
The White House wants North Korea to destroy its nuclear weapons program in exchange for relaxing economic sanctions that have walled off Pyingyang from most of the rest of the world
Pompeo is pictured Thursday morning reading Trump’s letter to Kim Jong-un before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing
The U.S. ‘received no response to our inquiries from them,’ Pompeo said of the final days of preparation for the June 12 Singapore summit
‘I think the American team is fully prepared. I think we’re rocking. I think we’re ready,’ he said.
‘I think we’re prepared for this meeting. I think President Trump is prepared for this meeting. We were fully, fully engaged over the past weeks to prepare for this meeting.’
‘I hope we quickly are able to get back to that place,’ he said. ‘But ultimately Chairman Kim will have that decision to make for himself. As the president said, we welcome their call, their outreach, to head back down that path.’
In the absence of progress, Pompeo said, ‘in some ways it’s “situation normal.” The pressure campaign continues.’
Wednesday during a parallel hearing in the House of Representatives, Pompeo signaled that the ball was in Pyongyang’s court.
While he was ‘hopeful’ the summit would take place, he said, ‘That decision will ultimately be up to Chairman Kim.’
But he said there would be no concessions offered in order to move forward.
‘A bad deal is not an option. The American people are counting on us to get this right. If the right deal is not on the table, we will respectfully walk away,’ he said.
READ THE LETTER TRUMP SENT KIM CANCELING THEIR JUNE NUCLEAR SUMMIT
Donald Trump abruptly called off his planned nuclear weapons summit with North Korean despot Kim Jong-un, citing insults Kim had lobbed at Vice President Mike Pence and warning him about the size and might of the U.S. nuclear arsenal.
Trump addressed a letter to Kim personally, and the White House released a copy of it on May 24:
‘Dear Mr. Chairman:
North Korean President Kim Jong-un
‘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. 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.
‘I felt a wonderful dialogue was building up between you and me, and ultimately, it is only that dialogue that matters. Some day, I look very much forward to meeting you. In the meantime, I want to thank you for the release of the hostages who are now home with their families. That was a beautiful gesture and was very much appreciated.’
‘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.’