White House strikes cautious tone on North Korea

White House strikes cautious tone on North Korea

President Donald Trump, along with first lady Melania Trump, welcomed the former hostages back from North Korea early Thursday morning at Andrews Air Force Base in Maryland. Vice President Mike Pence and his wife, Karen Pence, are in the background. (WhiteHouse.gov)

WASHINGTON — The White House is taking a moderate tone toward North Korea after signs emerged Tuesday that the secretive nation may be second-guessing a planned summit between President Donald Trump and dictator Kim Jong Un.

“This is something that we fully expected,” White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders told reporters while heading into the White House Wednesday morning. “If they want to meet we’ll be ready and if they don’t, that’s OK too.”

South Korea’s Yonhap News Agency reported Tuesday that KCNA, North Korea’s media arm, said that talks with South Korean officials have been canceled in response to planned military drills with the U.S. and that they are now reconsidering the June 12 meeting in Singapore.

In a statement Tuesday, Sanders said that “the United States will look at what North Korea has said independently, and continue to coordinate closely with our allies.”

In follow up statements, KCNA appeared to reject full “one-sided” denuclearization, a prospect that the U.S. has stated is its primary goal in upcoming talks.

Trump declined to respond to shouted questions on Tuesday and has not posted a tweet on the matter as of Wednesday morning.

The president has expressed optimism over the upcoming meeting in recent weeks, but has maintained that the U.S. is prepared to scrap the meeting or walk away from the table if it appears that denuclearization is unlikely.

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