Donald Trump's decision to cancel a June 12 summit with North Korea's Kim Jong-un is the latest dramatic twist in relations between two leaders who traded insults before laying the groundwork for what would have been a stunning rapprochement.
North Korea had sharply criticised suggestions by Mr Trump's national security adviser, John Bolton, and Vice President Mike Pence that it could share the fate of Libya if it did not swiftly surrender its nuclear arsenal.
"We'll see what happens", Trump told reporters at the White House on Friday, adding that his administration was in talks with Pyongyang and the summit was still possible on its originally scheduled date of 12 June.
Trump on Thursday announced his withdrawal from what would have been the first-ever meeting between a serving United States president and a North Korean leader, scheduled for Singapore on June 12, in a letter to Kim, citing North Korea's "tremendous anger and open hostility".
In a separate statement at the White House, Mr Trump said the step was a "tremendous setback for North Korea and the world", adding the U.S. military was "ready if necessary" to respond to any "reckless" act from North Korea.
Other Democrats said they wanted North Korea to disarm, but knew it wouldn't happen quickly without intense preparations that they said Trump wasn't willing to do.
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.More news: Atletico Madrid star Griezmann: Simeone just like Ferguson
The president's surprise exit from the planned talks on Thursday had capped weeks of high-stakes brinkmanship between the two unpredictable leaders over nuclear negotiating terms for their unprecedented sit-down.
Nearby, across the street from the U.S. Embassy, about 20 more protesters aligned with South Korea's leftist People's Democracy Party (PDP) had gathered with placards bearing images of Trump sporting Nazi regalia and surrounded by warplanes.
The next day, North Korea dismantles a nuclear test site in an apparent goodwill gesture.
The White House even unveiled a commemorative coin with the profiles of Trump and Kim to herald the "peace talks".
In the US, Republican Senator Tom Cotton praised President Trump for "seeing through Kim Jong-un's fraud".
According to the White House, U.S. officials had become frustrated by North Korea's elusiveness in the run up to the planned summit.
The KCNA piece even seemed to flatter Trump, stating of the summit: "We have inwardly highly appreciated President Trump for having made the bold decision, which any other USA presidents dared not, and made efforts for such a crucial event as the summit".More news: Anne Frank's Hidden Diary Pages: Risque Jokes And Sex Education
Kim Kye Gwan said North Korea's recent criticisms of certain US officials had been a reaction to unbridled American rhetoric, and that the current antagonism showed "the urgent necessity" for the summit. Global journalists were present, but the USA government can't verify the site's destruction.
In his Friday statement, First Vice Foreign Minister Kim said the North Korean leader had been preparing for the summit to go ahead.
A recent survey commissioned by the Korea Institute for Health and Social Affairs, however, found that South Koreans were more concerned about air pollution than Pyongyang's nuclear weapons program.
Trump then issued his own threat in a letter to Kim. "They very much want to do it, we'd like to do it", he told reporters. "Another camp may try to use this as evidence that diplomacy is doomed to fail, and that denuclearizing North Korea by force - attacking a nuclear weapons power - is the only remaining option".
North Korea hardened its rhetoric toward the USA on Thursday, lashing out after remarks by Vice President Mike Pence and the White House national security adviser, John Bolton, that had linked the country with Libya.
South Korea's Unification Ministry also maintained an optimistic tone, referring to the North's conciliatory reaction to Trump's announcement and its hope a summit could take place later.More news: Texas shooting suspect's dad says son may have been bullied
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