U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said North Korea stopped taking part in bilateral consultations that would have been necessary for a productive summit between President Donald Trump and Kim Jong Un.
Pompeo provided additional insight into Trump’s decision to cancel the historic encounter in testimony before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. Moments after Presidents Trump’s letter to Kim Jong Un was made public, he placed blame for scrapping the summit squarely on Pyongyang.
“I regret the statements that the North Koreans have made over the past few days,” he said, “and the fact that we’ve not been able to conduct the preparation between our two teams that would be necessary to have a chance for a successful summit.”
Democratic Senator Bob Menendez said the administration should not have been surprised that North Korea is acting as North Korea often does in international negotiations, and that stumbling blocks were foreseeable.
“Many of us were deeply concerned that the lack of deep preparation that is necessary before such a summit is even agreed to was not taking place,” said Menendez. “And now we see the consequences of that. And I’m not sure that constantly quoting the Libya model is the diplomatic way to try to get to the results that we seek in North Korea, because that didn’t work out too well for [former Libyan leader Moammar] Gaddafi.”
By contrast, Republican Senator Cory Gardner spoke as though Kim, not Trump, had put the summit on hold.
“Kim Jong Un has walked away from a historic opportunity for peace and should be held accountable for his decision,” he said. “In the internal debate that must be taking place within Kim Jong Un’s mind — between Kim the propagandist and Kim the peacemaker — it’s clear that Kim the propagandist prevailed internally, and that peace lost out to that propaganda.”
Democratic Senator Jeanne Shaheen asked Pompeo what the administration will do next regarding North Korea. The secretary of state replied, “Situation normal,” implying the status quo remains. He added that the American-led pressure campaign on Pyongyang will continue.