Despite stern rhetoric from both sides—including Defense Secretary Jim Mattis' description of Pyongyang's behavior as "outlaw"—the US and North Korea are still in direct talks behind the scenes and a deal is still possible, a State Department source tells Reuters. The official says American negotiator Joseph Yun has been in talks with North Korean United Nations officials in what is known as the "New York channel." The official says that despite President Trump's description of continued talks as a "waste of time" and massive setbacks including continued North Korean nuclear testing, "the preferred endpoint is not a war but some kind of diplomatic settlement" and diplomacy "has a lot more room to go."
Trump departs for a 12-day Asia trip on Friday that will include South Korea, and White House officials say they have decided against a proposed trip to the DMZ. Instead, the president will visit Camp Humphreys, a military base around 40 miles south of Seoul. "To me it was a no-brainer that he should go to Humphreys, this new base that they've poured all this money into," Jim Schoff, a former Pentagon adviser on East Asia policy, tells the AP. He says the base is the perfect place for Trump to visit: "It's a big, massive real estate project and it's South Korean-funded," he says. "It's the big story of the alliance in recent times and it's a great opportunity to highlight that." (Democratic lawmakers are trying to curb Trump's ability to launch a nuclear strike on North Korea.)