WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump said Friday that his administration was back in touch with North Korea.
The two sides may reschedule his summit meeting with Kim Jong Un, perhaps even on the original June 12 date, a stunning reversal just a day after the president canceled the get-together.
“We’ll see what happens,” Trumpsaid. “It could even be the 12th,” he said. “We’re talking to them now. They very much want to do it. We’d like to do it. We’ll see what happens.”
Trump indicated that he was pleased with a conciliatory statement released by North Korea after his decision Thursday to scrap the summit meeting, and he brushed off concerns raised privately by his staff and publicly by his allies and adversaries alike that Kim was playing him.
“Everybody plays games,” he told a reporter. “You know that.”
The president’s comments were the latest head-spinning twist in a diplomatic dance that has played out unlike any in recent years.
After threatening “fire and fury” against North Korea and dismissing Kim as “Little Rocket Man” last year, Trump abruptly accepted an invitation to meet — and with little consultation with his advisers.
He just as suddenly called off the meeting Thursday morning after North Korean officials failed to show up for a planning meeting in Singapore and issued a statement calling Vice President Mike Pence a “political dummy” for suggesting that Kim could meet the same grisly fate as Libya’s Moammar Gadhafi if he did not give up his nuclear weapons.
But Trump gave the impression of someone eager to pursue a relationship and a deal that he has mused could win him the Nobel Peace Prize. And North Korea picked up on that by reacting calmly to the cancellation, issuing a statement saying that “with a broad and open mind, we are willing to give the United States time and opportunity” to come back to the table.
Trump responded positively on Twitter on Friday morning. “Very good news to receive the warm and productive statement from North Korea,” he wrote. “We will soon see where it will lead, hopefully to long and enduring prosperity and peace. Only time (and talent) will tell!”
At the same time, he accused Democrats of hoping for failure. “Democrats are so obviously rooting against us in our negotiations with North Korea,” he wrote.
Democrats denied that but lamented what they called the chaotic handling of the situation.
“This is a pretty haphazard process that we’ve seen,” Sen. Tom Udall, D-N.M., a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said on CNN. “The president seems to be functioning more along the lines of a high-stakes real estate deal with intimidation and pain and then trying to get an agreement.”
“Diplomacy’s much more difficult,” he added. “It’s not a win-lose like real estate. You’ve got to find a win-win.”
Udall rejected the notion that Democrats hope for failure. “I’m never rooting against our country and a president reaching an agreement that’s in the best interest of the United States of America, and I want to see that happen,” he said. “I’m not so sure the way this was approached that they have a strategy, they have the discipline, that they were going to pull it together and do this in a diplomatic way.”