WASHINGTON – “Everybody plays games,” President Donald Trump declared Friday as he suggested the potentially historic North Korean summit he had suddenly called off might be getting back on track.
His sights set on a meeting that has raised hopes for a halt in North Korea’s nuclear weapons development, Trump welcomed the North’s conciliatory response to his Thursday letter withdrawing from the Singapore summit with Kim Jong Un. Rekindling hopes as quickly as he had doused them, Trump said it was even possible the meeting could take place on the originally planned June 12 date.
“They very much want to do it; we’d like to do it,” he said.
Later Friday, Trump tweeted that the two countries were “having very productive talks.” He wrote that the summit, “if it does happen, will likely remain in Singapore on the same date.”
The sweetening tone was just the latest change in a roller-coaster game of brinkmanship — talks about talks with two unpredictable world leaders trading threats and blandishments. On Thursday, White House officials had noted that Trump had left the door open with a letter to Kim that blamed “tremendous anger and open hostility” by Pyongyang but also urged Kim to call him.
By Friday, North Korea issued a statement saying it was still “willing to give the U.S. time and opportunities” to reconsider talks “at any time, at any format.” Trump rapidly tweeted that the statement was “very good news” and told reporters that “we’re talking to them now.”
Confident in his negotiating skills, Trump views the meeting as a legacy-defining opportunity and has relished the press attention and the speculation about a possible Nobel Peace Prize. He made a quick decision to accept the sit-down in March, over the concerns of many top aides, and has remained committed, even amid rising concerns about the challenges he faces in scoring a positive agreement.
Asked Friday if the North Koreans were playing games with their communications, Trump responded: “Everybody plays games. You know that better than anybody.”
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