President Donald Trump and his aides are hinting that his historic sit-down with Kim Jong Un may still happen, just one day after Trump sent a blunt letter to the North Korean leader calling it off.
In showman style, Trump on Friday teased at the idea of another stunning reversal, saying, “We’re talking to them now,” and that “It could even be the twelfth,” referring to the original plan for the summit — June 12 in Singapore.
Defense Secretary Jim Mattis was also coy but suggested that summit planning is progressing. “We have got some, possibly some good news on the Korea summit, where it may, if our diplomats can pull it off, may have it back on even,” Mattis told reporters. “Our president just sent out a note about that a few moments ago … That is a usual give-and-take, you know, of trying to put together big summits and stuff.”
White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders added to the fodder, telling reporters Friday it’s “certainly a possibility” the summit will take place as previously planned. And as of Friday morning, an advance team of about 30 White House staffers and State Department officials was still planning to leave for a logistics meeting Southeast Asia on Sunday, according to two people familiar with the planning.
But it remains unclear whether the president, who has yet to shore up a definitive commitment from North Korea to completely denuclearize, will live up to his self-touted reputation as deal-closer and finalize plans with Kim.
In Trump’s letter to Kim and in statements from his top aides, the White House has framed the potential summit as a boost for Kim and his country, with Sanders saying it would “be great for the world and certainly would be good for North Korea.” But the president holds his own stake in the discussions, which could reap a sizable victory for him on the global stage.