President Donald Trumps decision to cancel his summit with North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un is, in itself, no cause for regret. Going ahead with a meeting that had little chance of success would have been a mistake, compounding errors the administration has already made on this issue. The cancellation is an opportunity to rethink, one the president and his advisers need to grasp.
Exactly why Trump wont meet Kim in Singapore on June 12 is unclear. Perhaps hes come to think that the North Koreans were never sincere about discussing a formula to abandon their nuclear-weapons program. In any event, Trumps withdrawal avoids the risk that he might have struck a bad deal in pursuit of a moments applause and thats all to the good. The door to future negotiations hasnt closed. North Korea says it wants to keep talking. What matters now is to get this process on to a more productive track.
This will take some doing. Trumps approach up to now has weakened the U.S. position. If the U.S. had shown it was prepared to negotiate in good faith and the North wasnt, it would now be in a stronger position. Instead, South Koreas government may grudgingly agree with the Norths charge that the U.S. is not to be trusted. China will be confirmed in that assessment. Both countries may soon be urging a lifting of sanctions.