WASHINGTON — One day after abruptly pulling the plug on a high-stakes summit with North Korea, US President Donald Trump said Friday the meeting with Kim Jong Un could go ahead after all — possibly even on the originally scheduled date of June 12.
The summit would be an unprecedented meeting between a sitting US president and a North Korean leader, which Washington hopes will result in full denuclearization of the reclusive state.
“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 added.
Earlier Trump said North Korea’s statement that it was still willing to meet despite his cancellation of the summit was “warm and productive.”
Trump tweeted Friday morning, a day after he withdrew from the June 12 summit. In a letter to North Korea leader Kim Jong Un, Trump had blamed “tremendous anger and open hostility” by Pyongyang, but held out hope that the meeting could happen.
North Korea issued a statement Friday saying it is still “willing to give the US time and opportunities” to reconsider talks “at any time, at any format.”
Vice Foreign Minister Kim Kye Gwan called Trump’s decision “unexpected” and “very regrettable,” and said the cancellation of the talks shows “how grave the status of historically deep-rooted hostile North Korea-US relations is and how urgently a summit should be realized to improve ties.”
On Friday, Trump called the statement “very good news,” adding, “We will soon see where it will lead, hopefully to long and enduring prosperity and peace. Only time (and talent) will tell!”
He later said the US was “talking to” North Korea after the summit’s cancelation. He told reporters that “everybody plays games.”
Asked about the summit, Trump said Friday: “We’ll see what happens, it could even be the 12th,” referring to the June 12 date originally set.
Trump, who spoke to reporters at the White House before heading to the Naval Academy graduation ceremony, stressed that both sides would like the summit to happen. He said: “They very much want to do it, we’d like to do it.”
The president’s surprise exit 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 “denuclearization.”
Trump repeatedly offered mixed messages about the exit. Hours after releasing the letter, he declared hours later, “I really believe Kim Jong Un wants to do what’s right.”
After that, a senior White House official said the North had reneged on its promises ahead of the summit. Trump said from the White House that a “maximum pressure campaign” of economic sanctions and diplomatic isolation would continue against North Korea — with which the US is technically still at war — but he added that it was possible the summit could still take place at some point.