May 25, 2018 / 2:36 PM / a month ago

U.S. defense chief suggests Trump-Kim summit could be back on

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. Defense Secretary James Mattis said on Friday that a recently scrapped summit between the leaders of the United States and North Korea may still take place if diplomats can pull it off.

U.S. Defense Secretary James Mattis testifies before the Senate Appropriations Defense Subcommittee hearing on funding for the Department of Defense, on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., May 9, 2018. REUTERS/Yuri Gripas

“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,” Mattis told reporters at the Pentagon before a meeting with the Danish defense minister.

President Donald Trump had said a few hours earlier that it was possible a planned summit with North Korea’s Kim Jong Un could still take place on June 12 as originally planned, just a day after he canceled the meeting, citing Pyongyang’s “tremendous anger and open hostility.”

Trump scrapped the meeting on Thursday after repeated threats by North Korea to pull out of the summit in Singapore over what it saw as confrontational remarks by U.S. officials.

Mattis said the recent back-and-forth between Trump and North Korea was a part of the “usual give and take” that goes into putting a large summit together.

“The diplomats are still at work on the summit, possibility of a summit, so that is very good news,” Mattis said.

Asked if the U.S. military was changing its posture, Mattis said: “We are not changing anything right now, it is steady as she goes. The diplomats are in the lead and in charge and we give them our best wishes to have a fruitful way forward.”

Reporting by Idrees Ali; Writing by Makini Brice; Editing by Tim Ahmann and Dan Grebler

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