| Friday, May 25, 2018 |  10:37 AM GMT

President Trump cancels summit with North Korean leader amid renewed hostility

President Donald Trump with VP Mike Pence


US President Donald Trump has cancelled a summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, blaming "tremendous anger and open hostility" from the North.

He said it was possible a meeting could still take place but warned North Korea against committing "foolish" acts.

The meeting would have discussed ways of denuclearising the Korean peninsula, building on a historic North-South Korea summit in April.

The "unexpected" decision, Pyongyang said, was "extremely regrettable".

In a statement released by the North's central news agency, Vice-Foreign Minister Kim Kye Gwan said the country held Mr Trump's efforts to hold a summit "in high regards".

"We tell the United States once more that we are open to resolving problems at any time in any way," he said.

But even before the US president's announcement, doubts had emerged on both sides about whether the talks would take place.

Mr Trump's statement marks a fresh twist in the turbulent relationship between him and Mr Kim.

Last year saw the two exchange lurid insults and mutual threats of annihilation. This year though has seen warmer relations.

In the build up to the meeting, as a goodwill gesture, North Korea released three Americans it had in prison..

North Korea had also dismantled tunnels at its only nuclear test site only hours before Mr Trump's announcement.

During remarks at the White House, Mr. Trump called the summit's cancellation a "tremendous setback" for the North Koreans and the world alike. He held open the possibility that the cancelled summit might still take place at a later date.



He also suggested that the U.S. stands "ready if necessary" for any possible responses to the summit being called off, adding that he had spoken to officials in South Korea and Japan, where they communicated that they are ready should "foolish or reckless acts" be taken by North Korea in response to the summit's cancellation.

He said that the countries are also "willing to shoulder much of the cost of any financial burden and the costs associated by the U.S. in operations if such an unfortunate situation is forced upon us."

"We are more ready than we have ever been before," Mr. Trump said. When asked if calling off the meeting raised the risk of war, the president replied "Well, we'll see what happens."

The North Korean government is responding to President Trump's decision to cancel the planned summit.

South Korea's Yonhap News says Vice Foreign Minister Kim Kye-gwan issued a statement to the North's state-run Korean Central News Agency, saying North Korea was still willing to meet.

"We express our willingness to sit down face-to-face with the U.S. and resolve issues anytime and in any format," he said, according to Yonhap. "Our commitment to doing our best for the sake of peace and stability for the world and the Korean Peninsula remains unchanged, and we are open-minded in giving time and opportunity to the U.S."

He said the situation shows "how grave the status of historically deep-rooted hostile North Korea-U.S. relations is and how urgently a summit should be realized to improve ties."

"They will likely react with some form of anger, disappointment," Tracey said. "You could expect them likely to blame the U.S. for a breakdown in diplomacy here on the Korean peninsula. And if they wanted to, this could become an excuse to backtrack on some of the promises they've recently made with South Korea. So there could be some lasting impacts here, depending on how North Korea wants to play this."

Tracy also described his observation of a North Korean nuclear testing site, where North Koreans said they blew up some of their explosives. North Korea invited a handful of journalists to watch.

"What they did is in front of us, they strung explosives up inside these tunnels, they had three tunnels that were still remaining at the site, and they blew them up," Tracy said. These were major explosions."

"Now the problem is, this was a group of journalists. Nobody there is a nuclear expert. So we have no way of knowing if what they did in front of us actually does render that site completely unusable..." Tracy added.

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