Secretary of State Mike Pompeo claimed that Kim Jong Un was a “strong” leader just hours after President Donald Trump scrapped the highly anticipated June summit.
Pompeo pushed back on a line of questioning by the Senate Foreign Relations Thursday that characterized Kim as a “weak” leader, instead offering that Kim “demonstrated an enormous capacity to lead his country and his team.” He added that despite best efforts from State Department officials, North Korean were unresponsive to messages sent from their U.S. counterparts.
“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,” Pompeo said. “And we had received no response to our inquiries from them.”
Trump issued a letter to Chairman Kim Thursday morning canceling the historic summit. In the note, Trump wrote that he valued their “great dialogue” and thanked Kim for releasing three American detainees: “that was a beautiful gesture and was very much appreciated.” The president pointed to Kim’s “tremendous anger and hostility” in recent statements as justifications for taking the event off the table.
While Pompeo noted that it was North Korean behavior that pushed Trump to cancel the upcoming meeting, he noted both the administration and the president “remain hopeful” that the pair can meet in the future.
“I regret the statements the North Koreans have made over the past few days and the fact that we have not been able to conduct the preparation between our two teams that would be necessary,” Pompeo told lawmakers.
The Secretary of State assured the committee that the White House was fully committed to pushing Kim and the Korean peninsula toward total denuclearization.
The June 12 meeting in the Southeast Asian island of Singapore would have been the first sit down between a presiding U.S. president and the North Korean leader.