The commander of the U.S. Forces Korea (USFK) said Friday that President Donald Trump's cancellation of the planned summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un would mean the delay, not loss, of the unprecedented chance for rapprochement.
Gen. Vincent Brooks made the remarks at a local seminar, a day after Trump pulled out of the summit slated to take place on June 12 in Singapore, citing "tremendous anger and open hostility" from the communist regime.
Trump appeared to be referring to the reclusive state's Thursday statement that lambasted U.S. Vice President Mike Pence for his "ignorant and stupid" remarks about the regime, calling him a "political dummy."
"We all had high expectations that there will be a successful summit on the 12th of June ... Korea remains not the land of morning calm, but the land of morning surprise," Brooks quipped in his opening remarks at the Seoul seminar.
"I am not worried about it because the opportunity is not lost. It is just delayed," he added. "Don't worry about what happened last night because it may have been too early to celebrate, it is also too early to quit. Never quit."
The commander's remarks added to the growing speculation that Washington and Pyongyang are still leaving the door open for their top-level denuclearization dialogue, which the world has been anxiously waiting for with hopes that it could bring about lasting peace on the divided peninsula.
Brooks also used his speech to highlight his confidence in the long-standing alliance.
"I am not worried because I am part of an alliance that is like the evergreen trees on Namsan that can withstand the extreme cold, that can withstand monsoon, that can withstand the winds, and still standing, it still grows taller every day," he said. Namsan is a small mountain in Seoul.
"I am not worried because the alliance has very deep roots, roots that went through generations, the roots that are shared together, roots that come not from a conquest but from cooperation. These roots are strong, and we will not be turned over by any temporary activities, decisions or actions," he added.
Gen. Brooks has led the USFK, the United Nations Command, and the South Korea-U.S. Combined Forces Command since April 2016. The United States has some 28,500 troops in the South as a deterrent against North Korean aggression.