Trump on Summit: From 'Off' to 'Maybe' 05/26 10:17
President Donald Trump says "everybody plays games" as he's suggesting the
summit with North Korea that he suddenly called off might get back on track,
rekindling hopes of progress toward halting the North's nuclear weapons
WASHINGTON (AP) -- President Donald Trump says "everybody plays games" as
he's suggesting the summit with North Korea that he suddenly called off might
get back on track, rekindling hopes of progress toward halting the North's
nuclear weapons development
Trump welcomed the North's conciliatory response to his Thursday letter
withdrawing from the June 12 meeting in Singapore with Kim Jong Un. Trump said
Friday it was even possible the meeting could take place on the originally
"They very much want to do it; we'd like to do it," he said.
Trump later tweeted that the two countries were "having very productive
talks." He wrote that the summit, "if it does happen, will likely remain in
Singapore on the same date."
The White House said Saturday that a team is heading to Singapore this
weekend as previously planned to work on logistics for the summit should it
Meantime, Kim and South Korea's president, Moon Jae-in, met on Saturday at a
border truce village. They discussed carrying out the peace commitments they
reached in their first summit, as well as Kim's potential meeting with Trump,
Moon's office said. Moon was expected on Sunday to reveal the outcome of his
surprise meeting with Kim.
White House officials noted that Trump had left the door open with a letter
to Kim that blamed "tremendous anger and open hostility" by Pyongyang but also
urged Kim to call him.
By Friday, North Korea issued a statement saying it was still "willing to
give the U.S. time and opportunities" to reconsider talks "at any time, at any
format." Trump rapidly tweeted that the statement was "very good news" and told
reporters that "we're talking to them now."
Trump views the meeting as a legacy-defining opportunity and has relished
the press attention and the speculation about a possible Nobel Peace Prize. He
made a quick decision to accept the meeting in March, over the concerns of many
top aides, and has remained committed, even amid rising concerns about the
challenges he faces in scoring a positive agreement.
Asked Friday if the North Koreans were playing games with their
communications, Trump responded: "Everybody plays games. You know that better
He did not detail the nature of the new U.S. communication with the North.
At the Pentagon, Defense Secretary Jim Mattis said "diplomats are still at work
on the summit, possibility of a summit, so that is very good news." He
characterized the recent back-and-forth as the "usual give and take."
The U.S. and North Korea do not have formal diplomatic relations,
complicating the task of communicating between the two governments. Under the
Trump administration, the CIA, where now-Secretary of State Mike Pompeo served
as director, has taken an unusually prominent role in back-channel negotiations.
Pompeo last year assembled a working group at the CIA called the Korea
Mission Center, which gradually assumed the lead role in talks with the North
Koreans, and the group's director, a retired senior CIA official with deep
experience in the region, became the main U.S. interlocutor with Pyongyang.
The group did not supplant the State Department's traditional mode of
communication with the North, which is known as the "New York Channel" and
involves U.S. diplomats and their North Korean counterparts posted to the
United Nations. But it did play the major role in organizing Pompeo's two trips
to Pyongyang, once as CIA director and once as secretary of state.
Trump, in his letter to Kim, objected specifically to a statement from a top
North Korean Foreign Ministry official. That statement referred to Vice
President Mike Pence as a "political dummy" for his comments on the North and
said it was up to the Americans whether they would "meet us at a meeting room
or encounter us at nuclear-to-nuclear showdown."
Trump then said from the White House that a "maximum pressure campaign" of
economic sanctions and diplomatic isolation would continue against North Korea
--- with which the U.S. is technically still at war --- though he added that it
was possible the summit could still take place at some point.
U.S. defense and intelligence officials have repeatedly assessed the North
to be on the threshold of having the capability to strike anywhere in the
continental U.S. with a nuclear-tipped missile --- a capacity that Trump and
other U.S. officials have said they would not tolerate.
Trump, speaking Friday to graduates at the U.S. Naval Academy, did not
mention North Korea directly, but he stressed the United States' military might.
He said, "The best way to prevent war is to be fully prepared for war."