U.S. news reports Thursday said President Donald Trump might have promised North Korean leader Kim Jong Un that he would sign a declaration to end the Korean War soon after their meeting.
Investigative news outlet Vox cited "multiple sources familiar with the negotiations" as saying Trump made the promise during his summit with Kim in Singapore in June.
The report said Trump made the promise and later qualified it by asking North Korea to dismantle most of its nuclear arsenal first.
The Vox report speculated that the change in terms had caused an increase in hostile rhetoric from North Korea.
"It makes sense why the North Koreans are angry," Vox quoted a source as saying. "Having Trump promise a peace declaration and then moving the goal posts and making it conditional would be seen as the U.S. reneging on its commitments."
The Trump administration has not commented so far on the report.
On Wednesday, Trump warned that the United States could at any time restart joint military exercises with South Korea and Japan if progress stalled on North Korean denuclearization. He warned that if continued, the exercises "will be far bigger than ever before."
Trump issued the White House statement via Twitter, blaming China for difficulties in the U.S.-North Korea relationship.
“President Donald J. Trump feels strongly that North Korea is under tremendous pressure from China because of our major trade disputes with the Chinese government. At the same time, we also know that China is providing North Korea with considerable aid, including money, fuel, fertilizer and various other commodities. This is not helpful!” he said in a series of tweets.
On Thursday, a spokeswoman for China’s Foreign Ministry dismissed Trump’s remarks as “irresponsible” and confusing. Hua Chunying told reporters in Beijing that the U.S. should first look at itself before casting blame on the impasse with Pyongyang.
The president, however, also indicated that there was still a possibility for diplomatic progress because he “believes his relationship with Kim Jong Un is a very good and warm one,” and sees “no reason at this time” to spend money on joint military exercises with South Korea.
At the Singapore summit, Trump made the surprise decision to suspend the joint drills after Kim made a broad commitment to “work toward complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.”
Trump’s tweets came a day after Defense Secretary Jim Mattis said the Pentagon was considering resuming joint military exercises with South Korea next year.
Mattis told a Pentagon news conference that the suspension of drills this summer was a “good-faith gesture” to North Korea, but that it was not an open-ended commitment.
“We have no plans at this time to suspend any more exercises,” he said.
But Mattis later clarified that no decisions had been made about major exercises for next year.
“Our forces maintain a high state of military readiness and vigilance in full support of a diplomatically led effort to bring peace, prosperity and stability to the Korean Peninsula,” he said.