Moon, Kim Discuss Scrapped Summit as Trump Signals Optimism

Geneva Stokes
May 26, 2018

"We're talking to them now", Trump told reporters. Focus will now swing back to how Trump will respond to the North's seemingly conciliatory gesture. That's the barbed-wire border that separates North from South, including a no-man's land that real estate buyers can't even enter.

"We were informed that the meeting was requested by North Korea, but that to us is totally irrelevant", Mr Trump wrote. "It was a very nice statement they put out".

The North has said it will refuse to participate in talks where it would be unilaterally pressured to give up its nukes.

President Donald Trump and his aides are hinting that his historic sit-down with Kim Jong Un may still happen, just one day after Trump sent a blunt letter to the North Korean leader calling it off.

Joel Wit, founder of the respected 38 North website that monitors North Korea, said Kim's hand has been strengthened regardless of whether the summit goes ahead because recent weeks have seen him forge connections with Chinese President Xi Jinping, as well as with Russian Federation and South Korea.

Trump welcomed North Korea's statement on Friday that it was still open to talks with the United States after Trump called off a summit with leader Kim Jong Un, saying he still held out hopes for peace.

"And so that's what the North Koreans are doing, and I don't know what President Trump is doing".

While the Trump administration had insisted on North Korea's complete, verifiable and irreversible dismantling of its nuclear program, Pyongyang had always couched its language in terms of denuclearization of the Korean peninsula.

The President later appeared to dial back on the decision, however, suggesting on Friday that the summit could still take place.

He said North Korea remained open to resolving issues with Washington "regardless of ways, at any time".

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The U.S. attitude is "too condescending and coercive", Kim said.

A White House official quoted by Reuters news agency described the comments about Mr Pence as the "last straw".

"The two leaders candidly exchanged views about making the North Korea-U.S. summit a successful one and about implementing the Panmunjom Declaration", South Korea's presidential spokesman said in a statement.

A senior administration official in the United States later gave further details, saying North Korea had shown "a profound lack of good faith".

And it's between North Korea and the USA right now. "Soak it up: we'll probably never see anything like this again".

Many observers had expected a belligerent North Korean response to Trump's cancellation, but the comments by Kim, the North's vice foreign minister, seemed, at times, nearly meek, and in stark contrast to the bellicose declarations a year ago of the North's willingness to pursue nuclear war.

What about Mr Trump's cancellation letter?

There, former leader Colonel Gaddafi gave up his nascent nuclear programme only for him to be killed by Western-backed rebels a few years later.

China, Pyongyang's sole major ally, urged the two foes to "show goodwill", while UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres called on the parties to keep talking, as did host Singapore, and Russia's President Vladimir Putin held out hope the talks would eventually take place.

If talks were to fail, and that is a very distinct possibility given the lack of mutual trust, decades of hostility and the simple fact that North Korea's nuclear weapons are its true only trump card-no pun intended-it will likely stem from the fact that each side approaches them with wildly different sets of starting points for negotiations.

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