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27 May 2018, 12:47 | Marta Robbins
The North Korea Summit: Is It Back On?
Moon Jae-in and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un had a candid exchange of opinions about their own peace efforts as well as the hoped-for meeting between Kim and President Donald Trump, according to Moon's office.
Saturday's meeting between the leaders of North and South Korea marks a recent and gradual thaw in relations, which have been nearly caustic since the Korean peninsula was divided in 1945.
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said he respected and supported the United States president's move to cancel the summit while China, Pyongyang's sole major ally, urged the two foes to "show goodwill". We will soon see where it will lead, hopefully to long and enduring prosperity and peace.
In Itaewon, a popular Seoul nightlife district Thursday night, 20-year-old Jae Hye-rim told TIME she was happy the talks were off because she did not want unification with the North for economic reasons. "We're going to see what happens", he later clarified.
After decades of tension on the Korean Peninsula and antagonism with the United States over Pyongyang's nuclear weapons program, Kim and Trump agreed to what would be the first meeting between a serving USA president and a North Korean leader.
After a series of unprecedented diplomatic contacts involving the United States, North Korea, South Korea, and China, the White House announced that a summit between Trump and Kim was scheduled for June 12 in Singapore.
Defence Secretary Jim Mattis told reporters diplomats were "still at work" and said Mr Trump had just sent a note out on the summit, which could be back on "if our diplomats can pull it off".
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Russian President Vladimir Putin chimed in from St. Petersburg, saying that "if you don't behave aggressively and if you don't corner North Korea, the result that we need will be achieved faster than many would think, and at less cost".
The summit planned for Singapore would have been the first time a sitting USA president had met a North Korean leader.
Overnight, North Korea released a statement reiterating its interest in talks, even as it acknowledged the relationship between Washington and Pyongyang had deteriorated. "We're talking to them right now".
Trump on Friday night said the historic June summit with Kim could go ahead following talks between the two countries.
Saturday's meeting is only the fourth time serving leaders of the two Koreas, who remain technically at war, have ever met.
Analysts say Kim's diplomatic outreach in recent months after a flurry of nuclear and missile tests in 2017 indicates he is eager for sanctions relief to build his economy and the worldwide legitimacy the summit with Trump would provide.
In his letter, Trump warned Kim of the United States' greater nuclear might, reminiscent of the president's tweet a year ago asserting that he had a "much bigger" nuclear button than Kim.
"His unsteady hand has left everyone scratching their heads, including our ROK (South Korean) allies".
Trump appeared to be optimistic even about the cancelled June 12 summit in Singapore.
North Korea in turn has suggested the onus is on Washington to offer the kind of guarantees it is seeking, without publicly disclosing what they are beyond implying it is concerned about the personal safety of its leader Kim Jong-un.
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