Anger and red faces in South Korea over axed Trump-Kim summit

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"It could even be the 12th", he said in a reference to the original June 12 date set for the meeting in Singapore.

Ms Choe, who has been involved in several diplomatic interactions with the United States over the past decade, said the North would not "beg" for dialogue and warned of a "nuclear showdown" if diplomacy failed. But there is also no question that his abrupt decisions-first raising expectations, by so readily and eagerly embracing the prospect of a summit, and then dashing them, with his unexpected withdrawal-do not fit very well into the ponderous, incremental world of worldwide diplomacy. We'd like to do it.

"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 USA side time and opportunity", he said. A statement issued by North Korea's official news agency expressed "great regret" at Mr Trump's decision and reiterated the country's continued willingness to talk.

Trump welcomed the statement as "warm and productive". "He doesn't want to be the bride left at the altar", a Pusan National University professor tells Time.

It came ahead of a planned summit between US President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un in Singapore on 12 June, which has now been cancelled by Mr Trump.

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un made good on his promise to demolish his country's nuclear test site, which was formally closed in a series of huge explosions Thursday as a small group of foreign journalists watched.

Despite pulling out of the summit in response to the remarks, the president maintained in the letter to Kim and during a later televised address that he would be open to reentering talks with Kim and potentially rescheduling the summit.

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North Korea had threatened to pull out of the unprecedented summit after US officials advocated a so-called Libya model approach, which involved that African country's total nuclear dismantlement before any concessions were granted.

The summit plan had hit a number of speed bumps recently as both sides began trading barbs and taking tougher positions.

"Democrats are so obviously rooting against us in our negotiations with North Korea", he tweeted.

Steny Hoyer, the Number Two Democrat in the House, called Trump's letter to Kim 'another demonstration of President Trump's treating of critical negotiations as if they were just another real estate deal'.

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres urged the parties to keep talking, as did host Singapore, while Russia's President Vladimir Putin held out hope that dialogue would resume and the talks would eventually take place.

North Korea hardened its rhetoric toward the USA on Thursday, lashing out after remarks by Vice President Mike Pence and the White House national security adviser, John Bolton, that had linked the country to Libya. "In the span of 24 hours, we've gone from President Trump writing an actual letter to Kim canceling the summit, to a day later saying the summit might be back on. I think Trump was afraid the outcome of the summit wouldn't be what the public expected, so he cancelled it".

Critics said the initial decision for the two leaders to meet was made in haste and without taking into account the deep strategic distrust and divisions over the path to a nuclear-free Korean peninsula.

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But Pyongyang has vowed it will never give up its nuclear deterrent until it feels safe from what it terms USA aggression.

The US President didn't waste much time.

Trump's latest about-face sent officials scrambling in Washington.

"Internally we have been quietly giving President Trump high marks for making a decision no other American president had the courage to pursue", Kim Kye-gwan said.

"Trump was unable to control his own government and his own policy", said Park.

Asked Friday if North Korea was playing games ahead of the summit, Trump responded, "Everyone plays games".

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