North Korea has said the future of the summit between Pyongyang and Washington is "entirely" up to the United States, even as US President Donald Trump cast further doubt on plans for the unprecedented meeting.
Trump said he would know next week whether his summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un would take place on June 12 in Singapore as scheduled.
White House aides are preparing to travel to Singapore this weekend for a crucial meeting with North Korean officials to discuss the agenda and logistics for the summit, US officials said.
Asked on Wednesday whether the summit would go ahead, Trump told reporters: "It could very well happen. Whatever it is, we'll know next week about Singapore. And if we go, I think it will be a great thing for North Korea."
Trump did not say, however, whether the preparatory talks between U.S. and North Korean officials in coming days were expected to clarify the situation.
Trump raised doubts about the summit in talks on Tuesday with South Korean President Moon Jae-in, who came to Washington to urge Trump not to let a rare opportunity with reclusive North Korea slip away.
The White House was caught off guard when, in a dramatic change of tone, North Korea last week condemned the latest US-South Korean air combat drills, suspended North-South talks and threatened to scrap the summit if Pyongyang was pushed toward "unilateral nuclear abandonment."
Meanwhile, North Korea's vice foreign minister has said her country was willing to pull out of a planned summit.
"Whether the U.S. will meet us at a meeting room or encounter us at nuclear-to-nuclear showdown is entirely dependent upon the decision and behavior of the United States," North Korea's central news agency quoted Choe Son Hui as saying.
"We will neither beg the US for dialogue nor take the trouble to persuade them if they do not want to sit together with us."
Choe said she could suggest to Kim that North Korea reconsider the summit if the US offended the North's good will. She also slammed recent comments by US Vice President Mike Pence that compared North Korea to Libya.
If the summit is called off or fails, it would be a major blow to what Trump supporters hope will be the biggest diplomatic achievement of his presidency.
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo insists the Trump administration is "clear-eyed" about North Korea, which has a history of making promises in negotiations and then backtracking.
"A bad deal is not an option," Pompeo said in his written opening statement for a House of Representatives Foreign Affairs Committee hearing.
"If the right deal is not on the table, we will respectfully walk away."
Pompeo, who was director of the CIA before becoming secretary of state in April after Trump fired Rex Tillerson, is the highest-ranking Trump administration to meet Kim. On his most recent trip he brought back three Americans who had been held by North Korea.
Australian Associated Press