REUTERS, 25th MAY, 2018
U.S. President Donald Trump’s decision to cancel next month’s summit with North Korea’s Kim Jong Un came as a shock to South Korean officials, who only days ago were publicly predicting a “99.9 percent” chance the meeting would proceed as scheduled.
Already on shaky ground amid stalled talks with North Korea, South Korea’s ability to fulfil its self-assigned role of mediator between Pyongyang and Washington suffered the biggest blow yet when Trump apparently failed to give his allies in Seoul a heads up about his announcement. The setback follows months of diplomatic progress that led to a historic summit between Kim and South Korean President Moon Jae-in in April. Some experts said the cancelled meeting might add to scepticism in Washington that Moon might have misled Trump on North Korea’s willingness to abandon its nuclear weapons programme, although U.S. officials have held at least two face-to-face meetings with Kim in recent weeks. Coming just a day after Moon returned from a trip to Washington to convince Trump to proceed with the summit, the about-face also signaled friction between the old allies over how to deal with a nuclear-armed North Korea.
Pictures released by South Korea’s presidential Blue House showed a glum faced Moon in an emergency meeting with security advisers near midnight to review Trump’s letter to Kim cancelling the summit.