President TrumpDonald TrumpBiden heading to Kansas City to promote infrastructure package Trump calls Milley a 'f---ing idiot' over Afghanistan withdrawal First rally for far-right French candidate Zemmour prompts protests, violence MORE on Friday sounded optimistic about reviving the North Korean nuclear summit he scrapped just one day earlier, even saying it is possible the meeting could take place on its original date.
“We’ll see what happens. We’re talking to them now,” Trump said on the South Lawn of the White House before leaving for the U.S. Naval Academy to deliver a commencement address. “They very much want to do it. We’d like to do it.”
Trump added “it could even be the 12th,” referring to the June 12 date he had agreed to meet North Korean leader Kim Jong Un in Singapore.
The president, who sees himself as the quintessential dealmaker, suggested the war of words between the two countries is simply part of an effort to gain leverage.
“Everybody plays games. You know that better than anybody,” he told a reporter.
The president’s latest comments followed a Friday morning tweet, in which he welcomed North Korea’s “warm and productive” statement in response to his decision to cancel the summit.
The tone stood in stark contrast to the letter Trump wrote to Kim on Thursday, when he told the North Korean leader his government’s “tremendous anger and open hostility” toward the U.S. caused him to cancel the summit.
The comments from both nations show they are working to get the potentially historic summit back on track.
North Korea issued a statement Friday calling the cancellation “very regrettable” and said it remains willing to give Trump the “time and opportunities” to reconsider his decision.
"We reiterate to the U.S. that there is a willingness to sit down at any time, in any way, to solve the problem," North Korean Vice Foreign Minister Kim Kye Gwan said, according to the state-run Korean Central News Agency.
Soon afterward, Trump called the response “very good news” and added “we will soon see where it will lead, hopefully to long and enduring prosperity and peace. Only time (and talent) will tell!”
The developments created whiplash in the president’s often-chaotic attempts to use diplomacy to end the nuclear standoff with North Korea. The back-and-forth has kept the world on edge.
Trump surprised many in March when he immediately accepted an invitation from North Korea to meet Kim, even before informing some of his own national security aides. His decision to cancel the summit with Kim, which would be the first meeting between a sitting U.S. president and a North Korean leader, came just as abruptly.
Top U.S. officials downplayed the on-again, off-again nature of the talks as a normal feature of high-stakes diplomacy. Defense Secretary James MattisJames Norman Mattis The US can't go back to business as usual with Pakistan The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Senate nears surprise deal on short-term debt ceiling hike Overnight Defense & National Security — Pentagon chiefs to Congress: Don't default MORE called it the “usual give and take of trying to put together big summits.”
“Diplomats are still at work, and from our point of view here at the Defense Department, that’s a fine thing,” he said outside the Pentagon.
Speaking to reporters at the Naval Academy, State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said “none of this comes as a surprise to us.”
“We always knew there would be twists and turns leading up to this meeting on June 12,” she said. “We weren't getting the right signals previously, so hopefully we will in the future. But we didn't want to go to a meeting just for the sake of going to a meeting.”
Trump’s sudden decision on Thursday to cancel the summit came after weeks of increasing tensions between the U.S. and North Korea, as they jockeyed for position ahead of the summit.
Administration officials were deeply frustrated by North Korea’s threat to pull out of the talks, as well as shots it took at national security adviser John Bolton and Vice President Pence, whom it labeled a “political dummy” for comments he made about denuclearization.
A senior White House official on Thursday rattled off a list of grievances against the North Korean side, saying it interpreted part of the Pence statement as a threat of nuclear war and mentioning North Korea’s decision to not show up for a planning meeting with a team of White House aides who traveled to Singapore last week.
The official also cast doubt on Kim’s goodwill gesture of destroying a nuclear test site, saying the action could not be verified because international inspectors were not invited to attend. Foreign journalists were welcomed to witness the detonation of the test site, which happened just hours before Trump sent his cancellation letter to Kim.
The White House, however, offered even more mixed messages on Thursday when Trump opened the door to the possibility that the talks may still happen.
“It’s possible that the existing summit could take place, or a summit at some later date,” he told reporters at the White House.
The senior White House official on Thursday said, however, that it would be extremely difficult to hold the summit on the original date, especially because North Korea cut off contact with the U.S. regarding planning and logistics.
“We’ve lost quite a bit of time," the official said. “June 12 is in 10 minutes.”
Updated at 1 p.m.