A Trump-Kim meeting could still take place down the road

Cheang Ming
CNBC

U.S. President Donald Trump might have called off what would have been a historic summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un , but experts said that the bets aren't off on a meeting taking place in time.

In a letter, Trump said it felt "inappropriate" to have the summit , which had been scheduled on June 12, because of "anger and open hostility" in a recent statement from North Korea .

Doubts had clouded the prospects of the meeting taking place in recent days, with Trump on Tuesday commenting that there was a "substantial" chance the summit may not pan out. But the tone of Trump's letter could leave the door open to future discussion, analysts said.

"I would bet that the meeting has a substantial chance to take place as scheduled. 12 of June in Singapore. Because everything is transactional for President Trump, so who knows?" Bong Young-shik, research fellow at the Yonsei University Institute for North Korean Studies, told CNBC's "Squawk Box" on Friday.

"If North Korea bows to the pressure imposed by the Trump administration and demonstrates the general willingness to meet all the demands by the Trump administration, then there is no reason why the Trump administration wouldn't revive the summit meeting as scheduled ... (or) in the near future, I believe," Bong added.

But Bong also pointed out that North Korea's recent charm offensive, from its participation in the Pyeongchang Winter Olympics earlier this year to the landmark inter-Korea summit in April, had not been directly related to its denuclearization.

"All those nice things may give you a sense like you are on the rocking chair," he said. "You may have a sense that you have movement, but when you are riding a rocking chair, the rocking chair doesn't move forward. It only gives you a sense of movement."


Meeting down the road?

Others said they expected talks to get back on track further down the road when objectives were clearer.

Uncertainty had clouded the picture over the different definitions of denuclearization for both sides, with North Korea saying last week that it would reconsider the summit if the U.S. continued to insist on Pyongyang relinquishing its nuclear weapons.

"I personally think the two leaders feel that a great deal is at stake ... I think they will find a way forward, not on June 12, but sometimes in the not-too-distant future and get this discussion going," Lincoln Bloomfield, chairman emeritus at the Stimson Center, told CNBC's Bernie Lo.

Strong incentives for Trump and Kim to meet also supported expectations for potential talks to take place in time.

For Kim, a meeting would be an opportunity to improve his image and provide a channel to getting reprieve from sanctions on North Korea, Scott Seaman, Asia director of consultancy Eurasia Group, said.

"And for President Trump, this is an opportunity for a huge foreign policy win that he can come back and tweet about and bring with him as they head into mid-term elections in the fall," Seaman added.

— CNBC's Nyshka Chandran contributed to this report.


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