"To the detriment of the world," the US-North Korea summit has been canceled—and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Thursday told Congress the North didn't seem to be preparing for it when it was on. "Over the past many days, we have endeavored to do what Chairman Kim and I had agreed, was to put teams, preparation teams together to begin to work to prepare for the summit, and we had received no response to our inquiries from them," Pompeo told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, per Politico. More on what Trump has to say, the reaction, and what this all could mean:
- More from Trump: In comments made after the release of the letter, Trump took an aggressive stance, saying "our military, which is by far the most powerful anywhere in the world that has been greatly enhanced recently, as you all know, is ready if necessary." NBC News reports the president added that he had connected with Japan and South Korea and that both will step up should Kim commit a "reckless or foolish act."
- But on the military front: ...nothing has changed. A rep for the Pentagon's Joint Staff says no changes have been made to the "state of vigilance," as the AP puts it, of the US military stationed in South Korea. They have taken no new actions but remain ready as always to defend US and South Korean interests.
- South Korea initially clueless? The Washington Post reports South Korea "seemed blindsided" by the move, with its president calling an emergency meeting with his top officials just before midnight after news of the cancellation broke. "We are attempting to make sense of what, precisely, President Trump means," said a rep.
- The letter: The AP has a tidbit on the letter, which Republican Sen. Cory Gardner says was dictated by Trump to National Security Adviser John Bolton.
- Reaction: GOP Sen. Ben Sasse said 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 program won't cut it." Nancy Pelosi was at the opposite end, saying Kim "must be having a giggle fit ... [Trump] didn't know what he was getting into and now he's walking away from it in this very chummy palsy-walsy letter." The AP rounds up more reaction here.
- Dueling goals: At CNN, Chris Cillizza looks at Trump's competing goals—to be both a history-maker and a deal maker who knows "when to walk away from the table." "In the battle between" the two, "it would appear—from both Trump's letter to Kim and his past public statements—that he favors the former, if and when he is forced to choose. Which means, in Trump's own vernacular, stay tuned! This is a setback, quite clearly. But Trump seems to be signaling that this may well not be the season finale but rather just a mid-season twist." Read his full piece here.
- Trump won: At the Washington Examiner, Siraj Hashmi has a response for those who are trumpeting that Trump got played: hardly. "Instead of getting absolutely nothing," Trump got North Korea to give up three imprisoned Americans and destroy the Punggye-ri test facility. "In exchange, unless you count halting military exercises with South Korea briefly, he gave up absolutely nothing." Read it here.
- Lost in translation: At the Wall Street Journal, Gerald F. Seib argues that throughout the build-up to the summit, North Korea and the US were continually misunderstanding each other, from what "denuclearization" meant to what Bolton was talking about when he referenced Libya. Read it here.
- What next: At the New York Times, Nicholas Kristof writes that Trump's statement did leave the door open to a meeting (he speculates South Korean President Moon Jae-in could perhaps "put Humpty Dumpty together again") but he sees the potential for danger ahead: "The previous policy of maximum economic pressure on North Korea may no longer be viable," as Kim has been strengthening his ties with the South and with China, the latter of which has already started easing sanctions. "So the risk is that Trump ends up reaching for the military toolbox."
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