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Leaving door open for future talks

May 27,2018 - Last updated at May 27,2018

US President Donald Trump's abrupt cancellation of the summit meeting with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un took few pundits by surprise.

The summit, which was due to take place in Singapore on June 12, was hurriedly arranged, even though US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo had recently made a visit to Pyongyang, where he has held talks with Kim and emerged euphoric about the prospect of holding the summit on time.

President Trump's impulsive decision to cancel the summit was on frivolous reasons, suggesting that "tremendous anger and open hostility" from the North Korean side made the prospects of a successful summit near zero.

Actually, anger and hostility from Washington was even more with Vice President Mike Pence making a comparison between North Korea and Libya. The fate of Libya, in fact, was never a sound model for the North Korea situation, something that prompted North Korea to make uncomplimentary remarks about Pence.

The real reason for the collapse of the summit idea between Trump and Kim is much deeper. The two sides are still wide apart on fundamentals governing their relations. Besides, President Trump has little or no experience in negotiating hard issues with an "enemy state".

As summits between friendly leaders, much more between hostile leaders, require much preparatory work and painstaking negotiations on fundamental issues, President Trump must have reached to a conclusion that his summit meeting with the Kim must have been preceded by meticulous negotiations by senior officials from both sides before the summit can take place.

No wonder Pyongyang's reaction to Trump's cancellation of the summit was muted and measured, suggesting that the door remains open for future talks between the leaders of the US and North Korea.

Pyongyang's statesmanship may still save the day for an opportunity to hold the much-acclaimed summit in the near future after all.

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