USA president cancels summit with North Korean leader

Media playback is unsupported on your device                  Media captionTrump

Media playback is unsupported on your device Media captionTrump"US military is ready if necessary

Speaking with reporters on Thursday, a White House official said that North Korean diplomats stood up White House officials who had traveled to Singapore for talks on the summit's logistics.

Tensions between the US and North Korea dramatically increased over the past week as both sides fought for leverage ahead of the talks. When asked if the announcement came as a surprise, a staffer in the office that works on North Korea issues said he had to check with State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert. The president has openly entertained the idea that he could have been awarded the Nobel Peace Prize had the meeting led to a peace agreement between North Korea, the USA and South Korea.

Trump called it a "truly sad moment in history".

The US leader brandished the threat of America's nuclear might in his letter, writing: "You talk about your nuclear capabilities, but ours are so massive and powerful that I pray to God they will never have to be used". Trump has said the USA would continue exerting maximum economic pressure on Kim and his regime.

The Pentagon similarly indicated it was braced for possible "provocative actions" on Pyongyang's part. "We can also make the USA taste an appalling tragedy it has neither experienced nor even imagined up to now", she said, warning that she would recommend Kim cancel the summit if USA officials didn't curb their language.

Media playback is unsupported on your device                  Media caption Pompeo- US was ready but North Korea had gone silent on preparations
Media playback is unsupported on your device Media caption Pompeo- US was ready but North Korea had gone silent on preparations

Trump on Thursday left open the possibility for future meetings to take place if Kim takes "constructive" steps toward peace.

Earlier Thursday, North Korea said it demolished its only nuclear testing site after a series of explosions overnight, which had been planned by Kim ahead of the scheduled summit. Nobody should be anxious.

Politically, Trump had invested heavily in the success of the planned summit. On that basis, the North Korean leader agreed to a meeting.

Washington has made it clear it wants to see the "complete, verifiable and irreversible denuclearization" of the North. We're not nuclear experts. So what they did is they blew up the three remaining test tunnels at that site.

Two other explosions, at around 2:20 p.m. and 4 p.m., collapsed the west and south tunnels, according to officials.

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The Punggye-ri test facility is buried inside a mountain in North Hamgyong province, near the border with China and is North Korea's only known nuclear test site. That explosion collapsed the complex's north tunnel, which was used for five nuclear tests between 2009 and previous year.

United Nations chief Antonio Guterres said he was "deeply concerned" by the cancellation of the planned summit.

The South Korean leader also reportedly urged Kim and Trump to speak with each other following Trump's move.

The highly anticipated summit had been cast by the White House as an opportunity to stave off a military conflict with North Korea and showcase Trump's ability to make progress where his predecessors had struggled.

He reiterated however that he had reached "a real understanding" with Kim, and that the American team had been "rocking and ready and prepared for this meeting". If the two leaders eventually meet, the coins will be handed out to members of the delegations and sold at the White House gift shop.

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Asked how the cancellation of the summit left the U.S. in the eyes of the world, Pompeo said Trump's team didn't think there could be a successful outcome.

Abraham Denmark, director of the Asia program at the Wilson Center think tank, warned of the knock-on effects canceling the meeting could have.

Mr Trump then doubled down, suggesting total decimation would befall North Korea if a deal was not made, and Vice-President Mike Pence weighed in saying North Korea "may end like Libya". "Expect Seoul to try to continue engagements with Pyongyang, even if it widens a rift with Washington", Denmark wrote on Twitter.

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