'Kim Jong-un stands to gain by being an international statesman', says expert

Friday, May 25, 2018

North Korea has said it is still willing to sit down for talks with the United States "at any time, at any format" after President Donald Trump abruptly cancelled his planned summit with Kim Jong-un.

Mr Trump blamed "tremendous anger and open hostility" by Pyongyang and abandoned for now a meeting that held the promise of a historic peace deal but also the risk of diplomatic meltdown.

North Korea issued a statement on Friday saying it is still "willing to give the US time and opportunities" to reconsider talks "at any time, at any format".

Vice foreign minister Kim Kye Gwan called Mr Trump's decision "unexpected" and "very regrettable", and said the cancellation of the talks shows "how grave the status of historically deep-rooted hostile North Korea-US relations is and how urgently a summit should be realised to improve ties".

In a letter to Mr Kim announcing his decision to back away from the June 12 summit, Mr Trump pointed to America's vast military might and warned the rising nuclear power against any "foolish or reckless acts".

The letter kicked off a day of mixed messages by the president, who declared hours later that "I really believe Kim Jong Un wants to do what's right".

Then, after that, a senior White House official said the North lacked judgment and had reneged on its promises ahead of the summit.

Mr Trump said from the White House that a "maximum pressure campaign" of economic sanctions and diplomatic isolation would continue against North Korea, with which the US is technically still at war, but he added that it was possible the summit could still take place at some point.

Talking on the Julia Hartley-Brewer breakfast show, North Korea expert Dr John Nilson Wright said: “I think this is really the Americans, yes we heard some noise from North Koreans with criticism of the Vice President and John Bolton. 

“If they feel they are being treated badly, they will lash out in that sort of way. All the evidence suggests that it was a win-win for Kim to meeting with Trump. 

"So, why has Trump done this at this stage? I think it’s probably a mix of things. 

"Perhaps fear that he was going to look incapable of reaching a deal. Plus there’s people in his administration, John Bolton being the most obvious one, who would’ve been trying to encourage him that he stood to lose more by going ahead with this meeting, but he’s backed out. 

"I think we’ll see maybe, we’ve already heard from the North Koreans they’re standing instructive and saying they’re still willing to meet, and it’s good for them to present themselves as the more reasonable side. Kim Jong-un has recognised that he stands to gain by looking like an international statesman."