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WASHINGTON: US President Donald Trump, a day after his cancellation of a high-stakes summit with North Korea, said on Friday that the meeting with Kim Jong Un could still go ahead.

“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 Koreans. “They very much want to do it. We’d like to do it. We’ll see what happens.” North Korea, responding to Trump’s abrupt cancellation of the meeting over “hostility” from Pyongyang, said that it is willing to talk to the United States “at any time.” Trump welcomed the statement as “warm and productive.” “We will soon see where it will lead, hopefully to long and enduring prosperity and peace. Only time (and talent) will tell!” the US president said in a tweet.

In a letter to Kim, Trump said he would not go ahead with the summit in Singapore, following what the White House called a “trail of broken promises” by the North.

Trump blamed “open hostility” from Kim’s regime for his decision to call off the talks, and warned North Korea against committing any “foolish or reckless acts.” But Pyongyang’s reaction to the sudden U-turn has so far been conciliatory.

First Vice Foreign Minister Kim Kye Gwan called Trump’s decision “unexpected” and “regrettable.” But he left the door open for talks, saying officials were willing “to sit face-to-face at any time.” Just before Trump announced the cancellation of the meeting, North Korea declared it had “completely” dismantled its nuclear test site in the country’s far northeast, in a carefully choreographed goodwill gesture ahead of the summit.

Published in Dawn, May 26th, 2018

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