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Trump Cancels Summit With Kim After Heated Pence-Pyongyang Exchange

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WASHINGTON (Sputnik) - US President Donald Trump has abruptly called off the June 12 summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un after Pyongyang reacted angrily to existential threats made by Vice President Mike Pence.

Earlier this week, Pence in an interview with FOX News warned North Korea that the "military option" was still on the table and suggested that the United States might have to implement the "Libya model" of regime change, hinting at the bloody overthrow of former Libyan President Muammar Gaddafi. Korean deputy foreign minister Choe Son-hui told KCNA that Pence’s remarks were "unbridled and imprudent." The minister warned that Pyongyang would reconsider holding the talks on June 12 if the United States continued unlawful and outrageous acts.

"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 said in a letter on Thursday to Kim released by the White House. "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 added that his decision is a setback for North Korea and for the world. The president placed the fault on the rhetoric emanating from Pyongyang.

Failure to Communicate

A senior US administration official said in a conference call on Thursday that the United States made many attempts to communicate with the North Korean government, but they have not responded.

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un delivers a statement in response to U.S. President Donald Trump's speech to the United Nations, in Pyongyang, North Korea - Sputnik International
North Korea: Trump's Decision to Cancel Summit Not What World Wants
The official added that the North Koreans never showed up to Singapore last week to meet with a US delegation in preparation for the Trump-Kim Summit.

North Korea led a trail of broken promises when it did not allow international experts at the closing of one of its nuclear test sites on Thursday and when Pyongyang cancelled a ministerial meeting with South Korea, the official noted.

Pyongyang had decided to cancel ministerial level talks with Seoul in response to recent joint military exercises held by the US and South Korea. The next day, North Korean First Deputy Foreign Minister Kim Kye-gwan said North Korea might cancel the summit between Kim and Trump if Washington continues its hostile policy.

Korean Deputy Foreign Minister Choe Son-hui said Thursday in a statement carried by state media that the much-anticipated US-North Korea summit depends on Washington.

Threats Despite Progress

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said on Thursday that the United States will most likely impose new sanctions on North Korea and will encourage other countries to do the same.

"I am sure there will be additional sanctions that we will seek to put in place, the United States, I am sure we'll go back to others asking them to do more as well," Pompeo told the US Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

President Donald Trump speaks during a news conference with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe at Trump's private Mar-a-Lago club, Wednesday, April 18, 2018, in Palm Beach, Fla. - Sputnik International
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The United States will continue to expect the full dismantlement of North Korea’s nuclear systems despite the canceled meeting.

On Thursday, North Korea's Defense Ministry blew up three tests mines at the Punggye-Ri nuclear test site, in addition to also destroying security checkpoints and other facilities, a Sputnik correspondent reported at the scene.

The Nuclear Weapons Institute Deputy Chair Kang Kyung-ho told Sputnik that North Korea had no other sites or mines for underground nuclear tests left following the dismantling of the Punggye-Ri complex, pointing out that the resumption of nuclear tests at the site would be impossible.

However, a senior US administration official said the United States is unable to verify whether North Korea actually destroyed its Punggye-Ri nuclear test site because of the absence of international experts.

The official added that it is possible that the tunnels of the Punggye-Ri test site were detonated in a way that will still allow them to be used in the future.

A man walks by a huge national flag printed on the wall in Seoul, South Korea, Wednesday, Oct. 26, 2016 - Sputnik International
Seoul Regrets Pyongyang's Decision to Suspend High Level Inter-Korean Talks
The military option is back on the table as diplomatic efforts dwindle. Trump has underscored that the US military is ready to take action against North Korea if necessary.

US House of Representatives Speaker Paul Ryan said in a statement on Thursday that the United States must continue to work with allies to find a peaceful resolution to the situation in North Korea after Trump decided to cancel his upcoming summit with Kim.

"The North Korean regime has long given ample reason to question its commitment to stability. We must continue to work with our allies toward a peaceful resolution, but that will require a much greater degree of seriousness from the Kim regime," Ryan said.

Ryan added that the United States needs to maintain its maximum pressure campaign against North Korea through tools provided to the Trump administration by Congress.

Senator Cory Gardner in a press release on Thursday called on the United States to impose a complete economic embargo on North Korea and to maintain sanctions in place until the Pyongyang is ready to pursue denuclearization in good faith.

"It’s time to pass my bipartisan legislation, the LEED Act, because it will increase the pressure on Kim Jong-un by implementing a full economic embargo and targeting his regime’s enablers," the release said.

Regrets, Hopes

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on Thursday expressed his regret over Trump's decision to cancel his landmark summit with North Korean leader Kim.

"I urge both parties to continue their dialogue to find a path to the peaceful and verifiable denuclearisation of the Korean peninsula," Guterres was quoted as saying by the UN press service.

View of the Moscow Kremlin - Sputnik International
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South Korean President Moon Jae-in called for direct talks between Trump and Kim, the Yonhap news agency reported Thursday citing the South Korean presidential administration.

Moon said the mission to denuclearize the Korean Peninsula must not be abandoned or postponed.

Moscow is not surprised by Trump’s cancellation of the meeting with Kim, Russia's Permanent Representative to the EU Vladimir Chizhov said Thursday.

"If you think I was surprised — no. This was about to happen," Chizhov told reporters on the sidelines of the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum (SPIEF).

People pass by a TV screen showing file footages of U.S. President Donald Trump, right, and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un during a news program at the Seoul Railway Station in Seoul, South Korea, Monday, April 9, 2018 - Sputnik International
Trump Calls Off June 12 Meeting With Kim Jong-un, Hopes to Meet Him 'Some Day'
Russian President Vladimir Putin said that Moscow regrets the cancellation of the summit between the United States and North Korea. He added that he hopes the summit would still take place.

French President Emmanuel Macron said the peace process to reduce tensions on the Korean Peninsula should continue despite the cancellation of the US-North Korean summit.

"The process that has already been launched, aimed at reducing tensions on the [Korean] Peninsula, as well as the process of de-nuclearization and disarmament of the entire peninsula — this process should continue," Macron told a press conference after talks with Putin.

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