Donald Trump has bounced back like a yo-yo. A day after cancelling his summit with Kim Jong-un, the US President said his officials were having productive talks with the North Korean leadership and there was still a chance the pair could meet in Singapore in about two weeks.
In a tweet late on Friday, Trump said the meeting could occur on June 12 or ‘beyond that date’.
“We are having very productive talks with North Korea about reinstating the Summit which, if it does happen, will likely remain in Singapore on the same date, June 12th., and, if necessary, will be extended beyond that date.” – Trump’s tweet
The comments came just 24 hours after Trump canceled the meeting, a decision he blamed partly on Pyongyang’s “open hostility.”
An advance team of 30 White House and State Department officials was still preparing to leave for Singapore, according to Politico. The team was due to discuss the agenda and logistics for the summit with North Korean officials, Reuters said.
Trump had indicated earlier that the summit could be salvaged after welcoming a conciliatory statement from North Korea saying it remained open to talks.
“It was a very nice statement they put out,” Trump told reporters at the White House. “We’ll see what happens – it could even be the 12th.
“We’re talking to them now. They very much want to do it. We’d like to do it,” he said.
A South Korean presidential spokesman welcomed the sudden turnaround, saying: “We are cautiously optimistic that hope is still alive for U.S.-North Korea dialogue. We are continuing to watch developments carefully.”
Trump’s latest about-face sent officials scrambling in Washington, Reuters said. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis told reporters diplomats were “still at work” and said Trump had just sent a note out on the summit, which could be back on “if our diplomats can pull it off.”
U.S. State Department spokeswoman Katina Adams declined to give details of any diplomatic contacts but said: “As the president said in his letter to Chairman Kim, dialogue between the two is the only dialogue that matters. If North Korea is serious, then we look forward to hearing from them at the highest levels.”
White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders told reporters Trump did not want a meeting that was “just a political stunt.” “He wants to get something that’s a long-lasting and an actual real solution. And if they are ready to do that then … we’re certainly ready to have those conversations,” she said.
If Kim and Trump to get to meet, it would be the first meeting between a serving U.S. president and a North Korean leader.
The plan followed months of threats and insults between the leaders over North Korea’s development of missiles capable of reaching the United States.
In Pyongyang, North Korean Vice Foreign Minister Kim Kye Gwan said North Korea regretted Trump’s decision to cancel and remained open to resolving issues “regardless of ways, at any time.”
He said North Korea appreciated Trump having made the bold decision to work toward a summit.