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Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 17 December 2018

After cancelling, Trump and Mattis now see 'good news' on Korea summit

A US logistics team is still planning to travel to Singapore on Sunday, according to Politico

Defence secretary Jim Mattis, speaks to reporters at the Pentagon last month. Manuel Balce Ceneta/ AP Photo
Defence secretary Jim Mattis, speaks to reporters at the Pentagon last month. Manuel Balce Ceneta/ AP Photo

A day after abruptly cancelling plans for a June 12 summit with Kim Jong Un in Singapore, the Trump administration renewed hopes on Friday that the meeting is not all but doomed and may still take place.

Following a fiery letter to Kim Jong Un cancelling the meeting on Thursday, Donald Trump said that the US was having "productive talks" about reinstating a June 12 summit with North Korea's leader.

"We are having very productive talks 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 said in a Twitter post.

The about-turn was first signalled on Friday morning when he tweeted about "very good news" of the North Korean "productive" response to his threats.

This message was reiterated by defence secretary James Mattis. Mr Mattis told reporters at the Pentagon: "We got possibly some good news on the Korea summit, where it may, our diplomats can pull it off...diplomats are still are work and from our point of view here at the Defense Department, that’s a fine thing."

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Read more:

Trump says North Korea summit could still happen on June 12

North Korea say it is still open to talks with the US

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Mr Mattis dismissed the escalatory talk and what some saw as the end of diplomacy with North Korea.

"There’s enough people talking with no responsibility. I’ll let them talk all they want and then we’ll all hope and pray the diplomats pull it off,” he said.

The North’s response to Mr Trump’s letter shied away from escalation.

"We have inwardly highly appreciated President Trump for having made the bold decision, which any other US president dared not, and made effort for such a crucial event at the summit,” Kim Kye Gwan, first vice minister of foreign affairs in North Korea, was reported as saying.

Politico reported that the White House advance team on North Korea, “has not cancelled its travel plans to Singapore for a logistics meeting on the proposed summit.”

“The advance team of about 30 White House staffers and State Department officials was still planning to leave on Sunday for a logistics meeting in Southeast Asia, according to two people familiar with the planning,” the report said.

A senior white house official warned however, that there is little time left for preparation in two and half weeks remaining. June 12 "is in 10 minutes,” the US official said in a call with reporters on Thursday.