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US-North Korea summit: Congress reacts to Trump cancelling Kim Jong-un meeting

Republicans say Donald Trump was right to walk away, but Democrats warn the president misplayed his hand

Jeremy B. White
San Francisco
Thursday 24 May 2018 16:57 BST
Nancy Pelosi: Kim Jong-un must be 'having a gigglefit' over cancelled US summit

Democrats reacted to Donald Trump abruptly cancelling a high-stakes summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un by suggesting the president had strategically blundered.

“It’s clear he did not know what he was getting into” in agreeing to meet with the regime, to House Democrat Nancy Pelosi of California said of Mr Trump. “I think it's a good thing for Kim Jong-un”, she added, accusing Mr Trump of having “legitimised” the North Korean leader.

Reactions poured in from across the political spectrum after Mr Trump pulled out of a meeting he had trumpeted as an opportunity for a long-sought deal to dismantle North Korea’s nuclear programme.

The president and administration officials had said all along that they would abandon the talks if Pyongyang did not seem receptive and willing to halt its nuclear initiative. Secretary of state Mike Pompeo said the administration would sustain a “maximum pressure” campaign of sanctions as it sought to pressure the North Korean regime, saying “it’s important the world observes that this effort continues”.

A number of Republicans rallied behind the Trump administration, faulting the North Korean regime for undercutting the talks with a series of aggressive statements. Rep Ted Poe of Texas said the talks were a “bluff” and charged that Mr Kim was “obviously not serious about stopping his nuclear weapon and ballistic missile development”.

“Withdrawing from talks with #NKorea is 100% the right decision”, Sen Marco Rubio, a Republican hawk who has been critical of Mr Trump’s foreign policy, said on Twitter, adding that Mr Kim “doesn’t want a deal. He has deliberately sabotaged the talks over the last two weeks & was setting us up to take the blame”.

Senator Bob Corker, a Tennessee Republican who leads the Foreign Relations Committee, called the cancellation a “a little bit of a setback” and said “I don’t look at this as any big thing”.

But Democrats were less forgiving, suggesting Mr Trump had fumbled a rare diplomatic opportunity. Senator Bob Melendez of New Jersey, the top Democrat on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said Mr Trump had “weakened and further isolated the United States” by “hastily” agreeing to talks and then walking away.

“The art of diplomacy is a lot harder than the art of the deal”, Mr Menendez said in a statement, adding that “mercurial diplomacy will only damage U.S. partnerships in the region and jeopardize our national security”.

Mike Pompeo confident US and North Korea have 'shared understanding of ultimate objectives from summit'

Rep Gerry Connolly, a Virginia Democrat, invoked an infamous Twitter typo by Mr Trump in mocking the pullout.

“N Korea summit cancelled”, Mr Conolloy wrote on Twitter. “I guess that Nobel Peace Prize will have to wait. Covfefe”!

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