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How the North Korea summit got derailed

President Trump releases a dove, which falls to the ground
Illustration: Lazaro Gamio/Axios

President Trump hasn’t shut the door on the possibility that a North Korea summit could still happen — but for now, he’s warning North Korea not to try anything.

Behind the scenes: A White House official told Axios’ Jonathan Swan: “They literally threatened nuclear war. …[N]o summit will work under these circumstances, when they’re literally threatening our people.”

For now, it’s back to the days of “fire and fury.”

  • Here’s what Trump said this afternoon at the White House: “Our military, which is by far the most powerful anywhere in the world … is ready if necessary.”
  • South Korea and Japan are “ready should foolish or reckless acts be taken by North Korea.”
  • But, but, but: “It’s possible that the existing summit could take place or a summit at some later date. Nobody should be anxious. We have to get it right.”

Two views on where we’re headed, from Axios Expert Voices:

  • The case for pessimism, from Richard Haass, president of the Council on Foreign Relations: “There was no way the summit could have succeeded … Better that the summit was postponed than to have ended up in dramatic failure.”
  • The case for optimism, from Tony Blinken, former deputy secretary of state in the Obama administration: “Both leaders still likely want this meeting to happen.”

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