Japan Says It Will Work to Keep Pressure on North Korea

Lawrence Kim
May 25, 2018

Negotiating with North Korea's volatile dictator, as anyone with any knowledge about the Korean peninsula could tell you, was always going to be fraught with pitfalls.

Meanwhile, the senior White House official defended Trump's decision and said it was due to a "trail of broken promises" from North Korea that Trump chose to scrap the meeting.

But the chances of success for the unprecedented face-to-face had recently been thrown into doubt.

Trump's announcement, in which he vowed to pursue Washington's campaign of "maximum pressure" through sanctions, came a day after Pyongyang hardened its rhetoric by attacking Vice President Mike Pence as "ignorant and stupid."

Trump on Thursday abruptly called off next month's scheduled historic summit in Singapore, calling it "inappropriate" in the face of the North Korean leader's "tremendous anger and open hostility".

"The decision to cancel the planned summit and the manner in which it was done have the potential to put us back on a glide path to conflict", said Ned Price, a former Central Intelligence Agency officer who served as National Security Council chief spokesman in the Obama administration.

"Blaming the Chinese for the change in tone from North Korea strikes me as trying to find a Chinese scapegoat for a summit failure", said Douglas H. Paal, a vice president at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. This missed opportunity is a truly sad moment in history.

He added that it was "possible that the existing summit could take place or a summit at some later date". Nobody should be anxious. "We have to get it right", he said.

"If and when Kim Jong Un chooses to engage in constructive dialogue and actions, I am waiting", he added.

South Korean President Moon Jae-in played a major role in planning for the summit and sought to keep it on the rails in a visit to the White House this week.

He urged parties to continue their diplomatic efforts with "nerves of steel" to work towards denuclearisation of the divided Korean peninsula.

Mr Trump has shown time and time again that he won't abide verbal swipes from the North Koreans.

But Pyongyang has vowed it will never give up its nuclear deterrent until it feels safe from what it terms United States aggression.

A White House official said it was incorrect to focus exclusively on the "dummy" comment, saying that the nuclear threats meant that no summit could be successful under such circumstances.

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said he was "deeply concerned".

"They waited and they waited". That included the North Koreans not showing up to a planned meeting in Singapore last week. "The North Koreans did not tell us anything - they simply stood us up", said the official, speaking on condition of anonymity. The rhetoric mirrored Trump's previous threats of "fire and fury" toward Kim after the North Korean leader suggested his weapons were capable of hitting the US mainland.

North Korea also broke a promise to allow global experts to witness the destruction of its nuclear test site, the White House official said, and only allowed journalists to observe the process. Further complicating matters, advisors within the White House seemed split on how to handle Kim, and the U.S. president insists in general on ignoring diplomatic experts.

Richard Haas, president of the Council on Foreign Relations and a former senior State Department official under President George W. Bush, said in a tweet that the summit "was bound to fail" because the Trump administration "badly overestimated what NK would agree to; the issue was/is U.S. willingness to accept an outcome short of total denuclearization".

"We certainly hope that it's the case but really don't know".

"It's too early to bang the war drums", said Bruce Klingner, an Asia expert at the conservative Heritage Foundation think tank.

When questioned about this by reporters on Thursday afternoon and what would need to occur for the summit to be salvaged, the senior White House official said the Trump administration would "need to see the opposite of what we've seen over the past couple of days" from North Korea. "And now he's walking away from it in this very chummy, palsy-walsy letter to Kim Jong Un".

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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