"We can only speculate as to exactly what was discussed or why that might be, but the shift in attitude did not go unnoticed by the President’’, said a senior White House official, responding to questions on the sudden change in behaviour of the North Koreans.
"The President made some public comments about his sense that after the second meeting between the Chinese and North Korean leaders, there was a shift in attitude’’, the official said.
He, however, exuded confidence that China would play a constructive role in implementation of the international sanctions vis-a-vis North Korea.
"We do have assurances. China helped co-author and passed unanimously, with the other Security Council members at the UN, these UN Security Council resolutions that have all come into action over the course of 2017’’, he said.
"So, all countries, all UN members must abide by those resolutions, and we'll be watching closely to ensure that they do’’, said the official who spoke on condition of anonymity.
The United States, meanwhile, would continue with its maximum pressure campaign on North Korea, he said.
"The Treasury Department is constantly evaluating intelligence as it comes in to look for targets, that is people and companies and entities and ships that are violating the US law, as well as the UN Security Council resolutions. That is a constant process’’, the official said, adding that "the goal here is to achieve maximum pressure. We're still short of that".
He said Trump wants to see the issue resolved. "He has made a pledge to the American people to keep us safe from nuclear threat that has been growing and gathering for, now, three decades in the hands of rogue regime. So Trump is willing to pursue diplomacy as far as it can possibly be pursued," the White House official said.
Even as Trump in his letter mentioned that he is open to the meeting, the official said, the June 12 meeting was not possible in the present circumstances and the ball now was in the court of North Koreans.
"I suppose, the ball is in North Korea's court right now, and there's really not a lot of time. We've lost quite a bit of time that we would need in order to? There's been an enormous amount of preparation that's gone on over the past few months at the White House, at State and with other agencies and so forth’’, the official said.
"But there's a certain amount of actual dialogue that needs to take place at the working level with your counterparts to ensure that the agenda is clear in the minds of those two leaders when they sit down to actually talk and negotiate, and hopefully, make a deal. And June 12th is in 10 minutes, and it's going to be... But the president has said that someday he looks forward to meeting with Kim’’, he said.
(With inputs from agencies)