World News

Trump Says North Korea Summit May Be Rescheduled

Posted May 25, 2018 6:05 p.m. EDT
Updated May 25, 2018 6:17 p.m. EDT

WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump said Friday that his administration was back in touch with North Korea and 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,” Trump told reporters. “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 still 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 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.” In speaking with reporters on the South Lawn of the White House on Friday before departing for Annapolis, Maryland, where he addressed the commencement of the U.S. Naval Academy, Trump deflected questions about the arrest of Harvey Weinstein, the Hollywood mogul charged with rape.

“I don’t know, I’m not familiar with the case,” he said. “But it’s really too bad, it’s really too bad.”

He did not respond to questions about the FBI informant who contacted some of his campaign advisers during the 2016 presidential campaign, but before leaving the White House issued a string of accusatory Twitter messages asserting that it was part of a political plot against him.

“Can anyone even imagine having Spies placed in a competing campaign, by the people and party in absolute power, for the sole purpose of political advantage and gain?” he wrote. “And to think that the party in question, even with the expenditure of far more money, LOST!”

An informant working for the FBI contacted three campaign advisers as part of an investigation into whether Russia was interfering in the U.S. election. No evidence has surfaced suggesting that it was inspired by the party in power. James R. Clapper Jr., the former director of national intelligence, has said neither President Barack Obama nor his White House knew about the informant.