South Korea was at a loss for words Thursday after President Donald Trump’s announcement that he was scrapping next month’s planned nuclear summit with North Korea.
“We are attempting to make sense of what, precisely, President Trump means” South Korean presidential spokesman Kim Eui-kyeom said in a statement.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, testifying on Capitol Hill, wouldn’t comment on whether Trump’s letter blindsided the South Koreans.
The summit’s fate was thrown into question after North Korea backed away from the Trump administration’s demands to fully denuclearize. Trump then appeared to soften the demand, hinting first that he was flexible, but then saying there would be no meeting without full denuclearization.
Trump’s national security adviser John Bolton and Vice President Mike Pence sparked further North Korean outrage with comments comparing North Korea with Libya.
Just hours before Trump pulled the trigger to cancel the meeting, North Korean officials called Pence a “political dummy” and threatened to pull out of the summit themselves.
“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 shared with reporters on Thursday.