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North Korea Says It's Still Willing To Talk After Trump Cancels Summit


U.S. President Donald Trump speaks about canceling summit with North Korea's Kim Jong Un, with Vice President Mike Pence in the background (right).

North Korea says it is still willing to talk after U.S. President Donald Trump abruptly canceled a June 12 summit with leader Kim Jong Un over what he called Pyongyang's "tremendous anger and open hostility."

North Korean Vice Foreign Minister Kim Kye Gwan early on May 25 responded to Trump's announcement by saying Pyongyang remained open to resolving issues with Washington "at any time, in any way."

Gwan said Trump's decision was "unexpected" and "very regrettable," and said the cancellation of the talks shows "how grave the status of historically deep-rooted hostile North Korea-U.S. relations is and how urgently a summit should be realized to improve ties."

"Our commitment to doing our best for the sake of peace and stability for the world and the Korean Peninsula remains unchanged, and we are open-minded in giving time and opportunity to the U.S.," he said in a statement carried by North Korea's news agency.

Trump had called off the summit in a letter to Kim on May 24, citing North Korea's threat the day before to cancel the summit in a statement condemning Vice President Mike Pence as a "political dummy."

"Sadly, based on the tremendous anger and open hostility displayed in your most recent statement, I feel it would be inappropriate, at this time, to have this long-planned meeting," Trump wrote in his letter to Kim.

But Trump appeared to leave the door open to a new meeting, saying, "If you change your mind having to do with this most important summit, please do not hesitate to call me or write."

“The world, and North Korea in particular, has lost a great opportunity for lasting peace and great prosperity and wealth,” Trump said in the letter.

In a later statement at the White House, Trump said he had spoken to Defense Secretary Jim Mattis and warned North Korea against any "foolish or reckless act," saying, "Our military is the most powerful in the world."

Asked if the summit cancellation increased the risk of war, Trump replied, "We'll see what happens."

"Hopefully positive things will be taking place with respect to the future of North Korea," he said. "But if they don't, we are more ready than we have ever been before."

"In the meantime, our very strong sanctions, by far the strongest sanctions ever imposed, and maximum pressure campaign will continue," Trump added.

White House officials said Trump viewed as "the last straw" a statement made by North Korean official Choe Son Hui early on May 24 that had dismissed Pence's remark that North Korea "may end like Libya" as "stupid."

Choe repeated North Korea's contention that it is already a "nuclear weapons state," whereas Libya gave up its nuclear program before it had actually developed or tested nuclear weapons.

Choe said her country would not "beg" for dialogue with the United States and warned of a "nuclear showdown" if diplomacy failed.

Trump's announcement came hours after North Korea made good on a pledge to blow up tunnels at its Punggye-ri underground nuclear test site in a move witnessed by foreign journalists but not by nuclear experts, as the United States had requested.

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said North Korea did not respond to repeated requests from U.S. officials to discuss logistics for the now-canceled summit.

Pompeo told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee that the lack of response was an additional reason for Trump's decision to cancel the meeting.

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said he was "deeply concerned" by Trump's cancellation of the planned summit.

Guterres told an audience at the University of Geneva that he was urging the parties to keep working "to find a path to the peaceful and verifiable denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula."

South Korean President Moon Jae-in expressed "deep regret" over Trump's decision, and urged the revival of direct talks, Seoul's presidential office said.

At an emergency national security meeting, Moon said "the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula and permanent peace is a historic task that cannot be given up or delayed."

In Moscow, Russian President Vladimir Putin expressed regret that Trump called off the summit, noting that Kim had done "everything that he had promised in advance, even blowing up the tunnels and shafts" of his nuclear testing site.

Putin said at a joint press conference with French President Emmanuel Macron that he had hoped the summit would make a "start toward denuclearization" of the Korean Peninsula.

Both Putin and Macron said they hoped the break in dialogue would prove temporary and both sides would agree to reschedule the summit.

With reporting by AP, AFP, and Reuters
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