N. Korea keeps hopes of talks alive after Trump cancels


Associated Press

SEOUL, SOUTH KOREA

North Korea said today it’s still willing to sit down for talks with the United States “at any time, at any format” just hours after President Donald Trump abruptly canceled his planned summit with the North’s leader Kim Jong Un.

The statement by Vice Foreign Minister Kim Kye Gwan, a longtime nuclear negotiator and senior diplomat, said the North is “willing to give the U.S. time and opportunities” to reconsider talks that had been set for June 12 in Singapore. It is the latest whiplash development in what had been seen as a rare opportunity to diplomatically address what might be the world’s most dangerous standoff. Focus will now swing back to how Trump will respond to the North’s seemingly conciliatory gesture.

A scrapping of diplomacy could see a return to the torrent of weapons tests – and the fears of war they created – that North Korea unleashed last year as it sought to put the finishing touches on a nuclear-armed missile program meant to target the entire U.S. mainland. Since January, Kim has taken a radically softer approach to foreign affairs, sending his sister to the Olympics in South Korea, meeting with his South Korean counterpart on their shared border and exploding parts of his nuclear testing site Thursday in an apparent sign of good faith.

Earlier comments by South Korean President Moon Jae-in, seen as a driving force behind the summit and just returned from a meeting with Trump in Washington, suggested that Seoul, a top U.S. ally and host to 28,500 U.S. troops, was blindsided by Trump’s cancellation.

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