Five takeaways from Trump’s decision to cancel talks with North Korea’s Kim Jong Un

President Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.
(Mandel Ngan / AFP/Getty Images)

President Trump on Thursday canceled his June 12 meeting with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, but he signaled that the two could still meet.

“If and when Kim Jong Un chooses to engage in constructive dialogue and actions,” Trump said, “I am waiting.”

Here are five key takeaways from Thursday’s decision:

Read more: Trump pulls out of planned nuclear summit »


Decide in haste, repent at leisure

Trump agreed to the meeting with Kim Jong Un almost immediately after South Korean officials told him that the North Koreans had proposed it. At the time, many outside analysts called the decision impulsive and questioned whether the summit would ever happen.

Denuclearization is hard

Only a couple of countries have ever willingly given up nuclear weapons after having acquired them. Experts on North Korea have said for weeks that Trump’s belief that Kim would rapidly agree to join that group was unrealistic.

Dismissing allies has a cost

South Korean President Moon Jae-in had just gotten back to Seoul from a visit to Washington when Trump made his announcement. The decision took the South Koreans by surprise, and they made no effort to hide their dismay.

South Korean President Moon Jae-in speaks with President Trump during a meeting at the White House on May 22.
(Getty Images )

Drama suits Trump

Another administration might have waited to see whether the North Koreans would pull out of the summit first, rather than take the blame for scrapping the session, but Trump typically puts a big premium on appearing to drive events.

Don’t cancel your plans yet

In his letter and his statement, Trump left open the possibility that the summit could be rescheduled. His cancellation of it could be a negotiating ploy to see whether North Korea will seek to revive the meeting.

Twitter: @DavidLauter