White House: US ‘continues to actively prepare’ for summit
Rapid-fire diplomacy played out on two continents Tuesday in advance of an “expected” summit between President Donald Trump and North Korea’s Kim Jong Un, the strengthening resolve coming after a series of high-risk, high-reward gambits by the two leaders.
Officials won’t say that the June 12 Singapore summit is back on, but preparations on both sides of the Pacific are proceeding as if it is. Two weeks of hard-nosed negotiating, including a communications blackout by the North and a public cancellation by the U.S., appeared to be paying off as the two sides engaged in their most substantive talks to date about the meeting.
Trump tweeted Tuesday that he had a “great team” working on the summit, confirming that top North Korean official Kim Yong Chol was headed to New York for talks with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. In addition, teams of U.S. officials have arrived at the Korean demilitarized zone and in Singapore to prepare for the meeting.
“Solid response to my letter, thank you!” tweeted Trump. He announced he had decided to “terminate” the summit last week in an open letter to Kim that stressed American military might, but also left the door cracked for future communication.
White House officials characterized the letter as a negotiating tactic, designed to bring the North back to the table after a provocative statement and a decision to skip planning talks and ignore preparatory phone calls.
But aides almost immediately suggested the meeting could still get back on track. And after a suitably conciliatory statement from North Korea, Trump said the same.
Tuesday evening, Russia’s U.N. ambassador says Moscow supports a meeting between Trump and Kim but adds, “Every side has to be realistic about it.”
Vassily Nebenzia stressed Tuesday that a meeting between the two leaders is “the start of a long and winding road.”
As for results, Nebenzia told reporters at U.N. headquarters in New York, “Don’t expect that it happens overnight.”
But he says a Trump-Kim meeting is “a move in the right direction at least.” He says Russia “will support it of course, and especially meaningful agreements to be reached there.”