It’s a pity US President Donald Trump acted so hastily in cancelling his June 12 Singapore summit with North Korea’s Kim Jong-un. In a grumpy letter, Mr Trump not only poured cold water on the proposed face-to-face talks, which might have furthered world peace, but also reminded North Korea of America’s “massive and powerful” nuclear arsenal. Given Mr Trump’s moodiness and impulsiveness and Mr Kim’s enigmatic and dictatorial persona, a golden opportunity to break the ice was lost. Mr Kim’s move to destroy some of his nuclear testing infrastructure buried in a mountain may be hollow as the process is not irreversible. It’s significant, though, that he did the demolition before the world’s media. The point is Mr Kim carried through on his pledge to discontinue nuclear testing.
The West largely believes while it can build nuclear arsenals, no one else should. But what’s the harm in talking to someone who shows interest in capping his advanced nuclear weapons programme? The silver lining is North Korea’s reaction was restrained despite its perception that the US decision is not “consistent with the desire of humankind for peace and stability”. Mr Kim has left the door open for a meeting in the near future, but that depends on the Americans not misinterpreting signals like North Koreans not taking phone calls for pre-summit negotiations. The way forward will be defined only by Mr Trump’s negotiating style: threats in one hand and olive branches in the other.