Both President Donald Trump and North Korea said it would still be open to talk after Trump canceled a planned summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un on Thursday.
North Korean Vice Foreign Minister Kim Kye-gwan issued a statement saying that Pyongyang is willing to continue negotiations as soon as the U.S. decides to resume talks.
“We reiterate to the US that there is a willingness to sit down at any time, in any way, to solve the problem,” the vice foreign minister said, according to the state-run Korean Central News Agency.
The North Korean diplomat said that Trump’s decision to cancel the meeting was unexpected and not in the interest of world peace.
South Korean officials also expressed surprise at Trump’s decision, and encouraged the U.S. and North Korea to resume talks.
The North’s response came after Trump sent a letter to Pyongyang condemning the Kim regime’s “tremendous anger and open hostility” in recent days, scuttling the summit planned for June 12 in Singapore.
Other U.S. officials also said they doubted the seriousness of North Korea as preparations for the talks got underway.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo told senators on Thursday that the North hadn’t responded to U.S. preparation efforts, and a senior White House official reportedly said that North Korean officials failed to show up for a meeting in anticipation of the June summit.
“They waited and they waited,” the official said. “The North Koreans never showed up. The North Koreans never told us anything. They simply stood us up.”
Trump praised the North’s more conciliatory response to his decision to scuttle the summit, and he told reporters on Friday that the meeting could still happen on the date originally set.
“We’ll see what happens, it could even be the 12th,” he said, while on his way to the Naval Academy graduation ceremony.
Very good news to receive the warm and productive statement from North Korea. We will soon see where it will lead, hopefully to long and enduring prosperity and peace. Only time (and talent) will tell!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 25, 2018
The president said that the U.S. is currently “talking to” North Korea, adding that “everybody plays games” but that both sides hope to meet soon.
U.S.-North Korean relations took a turn for the worse after Pyongyang grew increasingly aggressive leading up to the summit, threatening to cancel themselves and expressing opposition to U.S. demands for complete and total denuclearization.
Trump has been careful to walk the line between tough talk and willingness to make a deal with Kim as both leaders hope to take advantage of an opportunity to make history at a meeting that would signal a significant step toward peace on the Korean Peninsula.