WASHINGTON — President Trump greeted North Korea's most recent statements with optimism Friday, saying it could lead to a restart of the peace talks he abandoned the day before — perhaps as originally scheduled on June 12.
"We’ll see what happens. We are talking to them now," Trump said. "They very much want to do it. We’d like to do it."
Trump suggested that the on-again, off-again talks are just part of the game of international diplomacy.
"Everybody plays games," he told reporters on the south lawn of the White House. "You know that better than anybody.”
Trump was responding to a statement from Kim Kye Gwan, North Korea's Vice Foreign Minister, that the regime is still willing to sit down with Trump "at any time, at any format."
"Very good news to receive the warm and productive statement from North Korea," Trump said on Twitter. "We will soon see where it will lead, hopefully to long and enduring prosperity and peace. Only time (and talent) will tell!"
As Trump pulled out of talks scheduled for June 12 in Singapore, the White House blamed North Korea's ramped-up nuclear rhetoric and unwillingness to meet for pre-summit planning.
But the North Koreans said they were ready to meet and were surprised by Trump's decision to cancel.
“We have inwardly highly appreciated President Trump for having made the bold decision, which any other U.S. presidents dared not, and made efforts for such a crucial event as the summit,” the North Korean statement said. "His sudden and unilateral announcement to cancel the summit is something unexpected to us and we can not but feel great regret for it."
Heather Nauert, a State Department spokeswoman, told reporters Friday that the administration expected “twists and turns” in the run up to the summit.
"We never expected it to be easy," she said.
Nauert said the administration is wary of heading into a meeting without knowing that something concrete will come out of it. Nauert said she wasn't aware of whether the Trump administration is currently in direct contact with Kim Jong Un's government.
"We weren't getting the right signals previously," she said, "so hopefully we will in the future.”
Trump also injected domestic politics into the North Korea issue Friday, accusing Democrats of not supporting the peace talks.