North Korea has responded to President Trump’s sudden cancellation of a potentially historic summit with a surprisingly conciliatory — and somewhat pro-Trump — message.
“We have inwardly highly appreciated President Trump for having made the bold decision, which any other U.S. president dared not, and made effort for such a crucial event at the summit,” Kim Kye Gwan, first vice minister of foreign affairs in North Korea, said in a statement carried by the state-run Korean Central News Agency. “We would like to make known to the U.S. side once again that we have the intent to sit with the U.S. side to solve problem regardless of ways at any time.”
It’s worth noting, though, that this statement came from the same person who just last week said North Korea might pull out of the summit, going so far as to note Pyongyang’s “feeling of repugnance” toward National Security Adviser John Bolton.
Still, the latest statement is worth a careful read. First, it’s not filled with typical North Korean bluster. It does take some slight digs at the US and Trump, but otherwise it’s a rather friendly comment. Second, the Kim regime says it is still willing to meet with Trump “at any time.”
That means it’s possible, albeit it currently unlikely, that Washington and Pyongyang will work toward finding a new time to chat.
N. Korea has just published the English-language version of its statement on Trump's pullout from the Singapore summit. pic.twitter.com/wjri8Q0I3X— Jonathan Cheng (@JChengWSJ) May 25, 2018
If the goal of the mostly kind, diplomatic message was to both make a point and keep Trump happy, it worked. Early on Friday morning, Trump tweeted that Pyongyang’s message was “warm and productive,” adding that it might push both countries “hopefully to long and enduring prosperity and peace.”
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 question now is just how serious both countries are about solving the nuclear standoff diplomatically. If they’re not, a potentially cataclysmic war all of a sudden becomes a potential option again.