SEOUL (Reuters) – North Korea responded yesterday with measured tones to US President Donald Trump’s decision to call off a historic summit with leader Kim Jong Un scheduled for next month, saying Pyongyang hoped for a “Trump formula” to resolve the standoff over its nuclear weapons program.
On Thursday, Trump wrote a letter to Kim to announce his withdrawal from what would have been the first-ever meeting between a serving US President and a North Korean leader in Singapore on June 12.
“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.
Trump’s announcement came after repeated threats by North Korea to pull out of the summit over what it saw as confrontational remarks by US officials.
Friday’s response by North Korean Vice Foreign Minister Kim Kye Gwan was more conciliatory, specifically praising Trump’s efforts.
“We have inwardly highly appreciated President Trump for having made the bold decision, which any other US Presidents dared not, and made efforts for such a crucial event as the summit,” Kim said in a statement carried by state media.
“We even inwardly hoped that what is called “Trump formula” would help clear both sides of their worries and comply with the requirements of our side and would be a wise way of substantial effect for settling the issue,” he said, without elaborating.
North Korea has sharply criticized suggestions by Trump’s national security adviser John Bolton and Vice President Mike Pence that it could share the fate of Libya if it did not swiftly surrender its nuclear arsenal. Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi was deposed and murdered by North Atlantic Treaty Organization-backed militants after halting his nascent nuclear program.
Trump had initially sought to placate North Korea, saying that he was not pursuing the “Libya model” in getting the North to abandon its nuclear weapons program. White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders also said: “This is the President Trump model. He’s going to run this the way he sees fit.”
Kim Kye Gwan said North Korea’s recent criticisms of certain US officials had been a reaction to unbridled American rhetoric, and that the current antagonism showed “the urgent necessity” for the summit.
“His sudden and unilateral announcement to cancel the summit is something unexpected to us and we cannot but feel great regret for it,” Kim Kye Gwan said, while noting that North Korea remained open to resolving issues with Washington “regardless of ways, at any time.”