Timeline: Korea-US summit goes through many twists and turns
iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) — The United States announced on May 10 that an historic summit between U.S. President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un would take place on June 12 in Singapore. As new Secretary of State Mike Pompeo returned earlier the same day from a visit to Pyongyang, bringing back three American detainees, the U.S.-North Korea relationship seemed to be cruising along smoothly.
Diplomatic peace did not last long. The last 10 days have passed like a roller coaster ride for the two countries, with North Korea threatening to pull back from summit and criticizing U.S. with the usual North Korean statements. As a response, Trump actually cancelled the summit with a letter.
The back-and-forth has only gotten more complicated in the days since.
May 15 (11 a.m. EDT): North Korea suspends high-level inter-Korean talks. The North originally requested the meeting, but cancelled with less than 10 hours until the rendezvous. The North criticized the South for carrying out joint U.S.-South Korea military drill, Max Thunder. North’s state media called it a “North invasion uproar.”
May 15 (evening EDT): North Korea’s state media made a statement under Vice Foreign Minister Kim Kye Kwan’s name. It said the United States was pressuring North Korea to give up nuclear power from one side. The statement called National Security Adviser John Bolton “repugnant,” due to his comparison of North Korea to Libya.
May 22: U.S. Vice President Mike Pence warned North Korea in an interview with Fox News: “There was some talk about the Libyan model last week, and you know, as the president made clear, this will only end like the Libyan model ended if Kim Jong Un doesn’t make a deal.”
May 22: South Korean President Moon Jae-in and Trump met in Washington.
May 24 (7:40 p.m. EDT): A statement made under name of Choi Son Hui, the vice foreign minister of North Korea, called Pence a “political dummy”: “In case the U.S. offends against our goodwill and clings to unlawful and outrageous acts, I will put forward a suggestion to our supreme leadership for reconsidering the DPRK-U.S. summit.”
May 24: North Korea goes through with destroying its nuclear testing facility at Punggye-ri as promised.
May 24: Trump calls off the planned summit with Kim Jong Un. In his official signed letter he says, “Based on the tremendous anger and open hostility displayed in your most recent statement, I feel it is inappropriate, at this time, to have this long-planned meeting.” Trump left open a door for North Korea by saying chairman Kim Jong Un could contact him if he changes his mind on summit: “If you change your mind having to do with this most important summit, please do not hesitate to call me or write.”
May 25 (Korean time): Kim Kye Kwan’s statement comes out in a calmer tone: “We would like to make known to the U.S. side once again that we have the intent to sit with the U.S. side to solve the problem regardless of ways at any time.”
May 25: Trump says, “If the U.S.-North Korea summit happens, it will be in Singapore on June 12.”
May 26 (2 a.m. EDT): A second inter-Korean summit takes place between Moon and Kim Jong Un at Tongilgak, a building on the northern side of Panmunjom. Within 12 hours, leaders from both Koreas communicated on issues related to the U.S.-North Korea summit.
May 26 (9 p.m. EDT): Moon made an announcement in front of press about his Saturday summit with Kim Jong Un, saying the meeting will “turn out fine.” Meanwhile, in Washington, Trump told reporters, “We’re looking at June 12 in Singapore. It hasn’t changed.” He said a team from the U.S. will travel to Singapore in case the summit happens.
May 28: A senior North Korean official arrived in Beijing on Monday before traveling to Singapore to meet with U.S. officials in preparation for a possible summit, South Korean media outlet Yonhap reported. The report indicated the official could meet with the U.S. delegation on Tuesday.
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