US President Donald Trump says a planned summit with the North’s Kim Jong-un could still take place on June 12 in Singapore, just a day after he cancelled the meeting, citing Pyongyang’s “tremendous anger and open hostility.”
Trump scrapped the meeting on Thursday after repeated threats by North Korea to pull out of the summit in Singapore over what it saw as confrontational remarks by US officials. (AFP)
US President Donald Trump said on Friday that the meeting with North Korea’s Kim Jong-un could still go ahead, a day after his cancellation of a high-stakes summit scheduled in Singapore.
“We’re going to see what happens,” Trump told reporters at the White House, after welcoming Pyongyang’s latest statement on the talks as “very good news.”
“It could even be the 12th,” he said in a reference to the original June 12 date set for the meeting in Singapore.
“We’re talking to them now,” Trump said of the North. “They very much want to do it. We’d like to do it. We’ll see what happens.”
“Everybody plays games,” said Trump, who often boasts about his own negotiating tactics and skill.
Earlier on Friday in a tweet, he had called the North’s reaction to his letter cancelling the summit “warm and productive.”
That was far different from his letter on Thursday to the North’s leader blaming “tremendous anger and open hostility” by Pyongyang for the US withdrawal.
On Friday, US Defense Secretary James Mattis said the summit may still take place if diplomats can pull it off.
“We have got some, possibly some good news on the Korea summit, where it may, if our diplomats can pull it off, may have it back on,” Mattis told reporters at the Pentagon before a meeting with the Danish defence minister.
Mattis said the recent back-and-forth between Trump and North Korea was a part of the “usual give and take” that goes into putting a large summit together.
“The diplomats are still at work on the summit, possibility of a summit, so that is very good news,” Mattis said.
Weeks of high-stakes brinkmanship
The president’s surprise exit from the planned talks on Thursday had capped weeks of high-stakes brinkmanship between the two unpredictable leaders over nuclear negotiating terms for their unprecedented sit-down.
The US announcement came not long after Kim appeared to make good on his promise to demolish his country’s nuclear test site.
But it also followed escalating frustration and newly antagonistic rhetoric from North Korea over comments from Trump aides about US expectations for the North’s “denuclearisation.”
On Friday, North Korea’s vice foreign minister said his country’s “objective and resolve to do our best for the sake of peace and stability of the Korean Peninsula and all humankind remain unchanged.”
Washington has made it clear it wants to see the “complete, verifiable and irreversible denuclearisation” of the North.
But Pyongyang has vowed it will never give up its nuclear deterrent until it feels safe from what it terms US aggression.