Korea summit back on, Trump says after meeting Kim envoy

Earlier, Trump told reporters that North Korean officials may come to Washington today with a letter from Kim.

He says: "In light of how North Korea has behaved in the past, I believe that it is important not to reward North Korea exclusively for agreeing to have a dialogue".

The summit, planned since April, was called off just a week ago by Trump amid a renewed round of heated rhetoric from Pyongyang and concerns over whether North Korea was honest about "denuclearization".

The historic meeting between Mr Trump and Kim Jong-un would be the first between sitting USA and North Korean leaders.

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USA defense and intelligence officials have repeatedly assessed the North to be on the threshold of having the capability to strike anywhere in the continental US with a nuclear-tipped missile - a capacity that Trump and other USA officials have said they would not tolerate.

Before he boarded Air Force One for a trip to Texas, where he will primarily focus on raising money for the Republican Party, the president told reporters the NY talks have gone "very well".

US officials have expressed optimism that the two sides are making progress toward resolving differences over the summit's agenda and logistical planning.

Mattis was speaking at the Shangri-La Dialogue, an global security conference in Singapore.

South Korean media speculated that Mr Pompeo could make a third trip to Pyongyang and that Kim Yong Chol was carrying a personal letter from Kim Jong Un and might push to travel to Washington to meet with Mr Trump.

Mr Trump cancelled the 12 June summit last week, but both sides agreed to move forward. "We welcome the summits that already took place between Pyongyang and Seoul as well as planned meetings between North Korean and USA leadership". "He's toning down his rhetoric, he's emphasizing positive things and he's just on a glide path to what he hopes will be a successful meeting".

As a goodwill gesture, Trump said that he will not be putting any more sanctions on North Korea, but the existing ones will continue.

South Korean officials say Kim Yong Chol stormed out of the room during military talks in 2014 when the South demanded an apology for the 2010 attacks.

Until the end of 2017 President Trump and Chairman Kim Jong Un were hurling abuse at each other. He is the most senior North Korean to visit in 18 years, a symbolic sign of easing tensions after fears of war escalated amid North Korean nuclear and missile tests last year.

TRUMP: I think it's going to be a process that we deserve to have.

Trump says his June 12 meeting will be "a beginning".

"I don't even want to use the term "maximum pressure" anymore, because I don't want to use that term because we're getting along", Trump said.

The envoy, Kim Yong Chol was previously chief of the Reconnaissance General Bureau, a top North Korean military intelligence agency, and has spent almost 30 years as a senior member of the country's intelligence community.

Bolton and Pence have been sidelined and Pompeo, whom Trump has praised for negotiating with North Korea, has taken centre stage.

The 72-year-old is known for his hardline approach and has earned himself a formidable and dark reputation over his more than 30 years of service to the Kim regime.

Kim is expected to spend the night at the North's Embassy in Beijing before heading home on Monday. The president shook hands and posed for pictures outside the White House with members of the North Korean delegation.

The president on Thursday also briefly tweeted: "Very good meetings with North Korea". After backing out of the summit just eight days ago - sending his own letter to Kim citing "tremendous anger and open hostility" - Trump suggested that the cancellation was just part of a jockeying for position.

A senior State Department official briefed reporters separately as Pompeo and Kim Yong Chol met late on Wednesday.

  • Leroy Wright