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North Korea nuclear crisis

‘Perplexing’, ‘the right call’, ‘embarrassing’: how the world viewed Donald Trump cancelling his meeting with Kim Jong-un

International leaders and US politicians have called US President Donald Trump’s decision to cancel talks with Kim Jong-un everything from a great move to a predictable disaster

PUBLISHED : Friday, 25 May, 2018, 4:32am
UPDATED : Friday, 25 May, 2018, 1:58pm

The announcement by US President Donald Trump that he has called off planned talks with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un on June 12 has been received with, alternately, confusion, horror and admiration both within the US and abroad.

Trump said in an open letter on Thursday that the “tremendous anger and hostility” expressed by North Korea in recent days had caused him to scuttle the talks, which were to have taken place in Singapore. He later said in a statement that their cancellation was “a tremendous setback for North Korea and indeed a setback for the world”.

Those sentiments were echoed across the world – though for some the blame didn’t lie solely with Pyongyang.

The international view

South Korean President Moon Jae-in: “I am very perplexed and it is very regrettable that the North Korea-US summit will not be held on June 12.”

Moon’s spokesman, Kim Eui-kyeom: “We are trying to figure out what President Trump’s intention is and what its exact meaning is.”

British Prime Minister Theresa May: “We are disappointed that the meeting will no longer go ahead as planned. We need to see an agreement that can bring about the completely verifiable and irreversible denuclearisation of the Korean peninsula, and we will continue to work with our partners to this end.”

Konstantin Kosachev, Russian foreign affairs committee chairman: “The rejection by Trump of conducting the American-North Korean summit undoubtedly is a serious blow to peaceful settlement in the region.”

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UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres: “I am deeply concerned by the cancellation of the planned meeting in Singapore between the president of the United States and the leader of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea ... [Pyongyang and Washington must] find a path to the peaceful and verifiable denuclearisation of the Korean peninsula”.

James Acton, co-director of the Nuclear Policy Programme at Carnegie Endowment for International Peace: “It’s not a massive surprise the summit has been cancelled ... It’s very Trumpian to break up with Kim before Kim breaks up with him.”

The Republican view

House Speaker Paul Ryan of Wisconsin: “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. At the same time, Congress has provided significant tools to hold North Korea accountable, and it is important that the United States not relent in this maximum pressure campaign.”

Senator Ben Sasse of Nebraska: “Kim Jong-un is a murderous despot and habitual liar. The president made the right call to cancel this summit. If North Korea wants diplomacy, it should know that half-measures and spin about its nuclear programme won’t cut it.”

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Senator John Cornyn of Texas: “What’s the most surprising is that there was ever an agreement to meet in the first place. I always assumed this was going to be a long, difficult negotiation and this was just the first demonstration of that.”

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo: “Over the past many days we had endeavoured to do what Chairman Kim and I had agreed to do, which was to put preparation teams together to begin to work to prepare for the summit, and we had received no response to our inquiries from them. I think the American team is fully prepared. I think we’re rocking. I think we’re ready. I think we’re prepared for this meeting.”

The Democratic view

Senator Bob Menendez of New Jersey: “The art of diplomacy is much harder than the art of the deal.”

Representative Eliot Engel of New York: “It’s another embarrassment for the country ... It’s no way to run a government ... This is not ding dong school. It’s serious.”

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House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi of California: “[Kim Jong-un is] the big winner. And when he got this letter from the president saying, ‘OK, never mind,’ he must be having a giggle fit, right there now in North Korea ... clearly [Trump] didn’t know what he was getting into, and now he’s walking away from it in this very chummy palsy-walsy letter.”

Representative Adam Schiff of California: “While it is regrettable that we are back to comparing the size of our nuclear arsenals, the decision to call off the summit was the necessary result of a poor negotiating strategy in which the president made it all too clear to North Korea that he needed the summit more than the North Korean dictator.”