Pyongyang has said it is still willing to talk with the US government, despite President Donald Trump’s decision to cancel his highly-anticipated meeting with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un next month. In a statement published on Friday by state-run Korean Central News Agency, Vice Foreign Minister Kim Kye-gwan said North Korea is “intent to sit with the US side to solve [the] problem regardless of way at any time.”
“We remain unchanged in our goal and will to do everything we could for peace and stability of the Korean peninsula and humankind, and we, broad-minded and open all the time, have the willingness to offer the US side time and opportunity,” he said. But he also added that the cancellation of the summit, originally for June 12 in Singapore, made Pyongyang “think over if we were truly right to have made efforts for it and to have opted for the new path”.
Letter to Kim
The meeting would have been the first time a sitting US president met a North Korean leader. Trump’s move came two days after hosting his South Korean counterpart Moon Jae-in in Washington, DC, amid looming uncertainty over whether the summit with Kim would go ahead. “You talk about your nuclear capabilities, but ours are so massive and powerful that I pray to God they will never have to be used,” Trump wrote in a letter to the North Korean leader.
Trump later said the US military is “ready if necessary” to respond to a “foolish or reckless act” by North Korea. “Our military is the most powerful in the world. We are more ready than we have ever been before,” Trump said. Trump did say, however, that he would be open to a possible meeting in the future. “If you change your mind having to do with this most important summit, please do hot hesitate to call me or write,” he said.
Trump had called on Pyongyang to abandon its nuclear weapons programme and arsenal ahead of the summit. But Mark Fitzpatrick, from the International Institute for Strategic Studies, told Al Jazeera the tone of Trump’s letter bodes ill for peace on the Korean peninsula. “The way that Trump did this in a letter that threatens North Korea with nuclear annihilation is probably not the right signal to send,” said Fitzpatrick
Earlier on Thursday, North Korean Vice Foreign Minister Choe Son-hui said her country “will neither beg the US for dialogue, nor take the trouble to persuade them if they do not want to sit together with us”. Andrei Lankov, an expert at South Korea’s Kookmin University, told Al Jazeera from Seoul that Trump’s announcement was “shocking and highly dangerous”.
“There is now again a looming and reasonably high threat of a major military confrontation in Korea,” Lankov said. “The entire Korean Peninsula is probably sliding back to a war, and if it happens not only Koreans or Americans but all people of the world will pay a price.”