The U.S. Ambassador to South Korea said Thursday that he was "personally surprised" and "glad" that North Korea's threatened "Christmas gift" did not come to fruition.
“You can say that I personally was surprised. But I’m glad also ... there was no Christmas gift,” Harry Harris told reporters in Seoul, according to The Associated Press. “Washington was ready for any eventuality, and we were all glad that there was no ICBM test or nuclear test.”
“[Trump and South Korean President Moon Jae-in] are keeping the door open to negotiations and hoping Kim Jong UnKim Jong UnNorth Korea bans leather coats after Kim starts new fashion trend Belarus and Russia must resolve the migrant crisis on their own North Korea's Kim makes first public appearance in month MORE will walk through that door," he added. “So the ball is in his court."
Amid stalled nuclear talks with the U.S., North Korea warned late last year that President TrumpDonald TrumpMan sentenced to nearly four years for running scam Trump, Biden PACs Meadows says Trump's blood oxygen level was dangerously low when he had COVID-19 Trump endorses David Perdue in Georgia's governor race MORE actions would impact which "Christmas gift" Washington received as a deadline for a denuclearization deal inched closer. The warning led to concerns that North Korea would conduct a major weapons test to start the new year. No new weapons test has taken place, despite the U.S. not meeting the December deadline to make concessions to North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.
Kim first met with Trump in a 2018 summit in Singapore, where he committed to a deal in which the entire Korean Peninsula would be denuclearized. Trump and Kim also agreed to improve relations between the nations, but later summits with the leaders produced no progress in denuclearization talks.
Trump lashed out at Kim in December after North Korea reported a “very important test” at a rocket site, tweeting that Kim "is too smart and has far too much to lose, everything actually, if he acts in a hostile way."
Harris added Thursday that Trump still believes Kim will live up to the agreement reached in Singapore in 2018.
“Trump ... is still confident that Kim Jong Un will meet the commitment that they both made together in Singapore,” Harris said. “We should focus on President Trump’s view that there is room for discussion here.”
The AP noted that the possibilities for renewed negotiations remain unclear. Kim has reportedly stated that he would not denuclearize if the U.S. continued to act in a "hostile" manner. He also late last year warned of taking a "new path" in 2020 engendering fears that the country would restart testing nuclear bombs and long-range missiles.