US President Donald Trump is ready to meet North Korean leader Kim Jong-un by May in response to Kim’s invitation to hold the first-ever US-North Korea summit, marking a potentially dramatic breakthrough in the North Korea nuclear standoff, Reuters reports.
Kim has committed to “denuclearization” and to suspending nuclear or missile tests, South Korea’s National Security Office head Chung Eui-yong told reporters at the White House after briefing Trump on South Korean officials’ meeting with Kim on Monday.
White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders said Trump “will accept the invitation to meet with Kim Jong-un at a place and time to be determined.”
She added: “We look forward to the denuclearization of North Korea. In the meantime, all sanctions and maximum pressure must remain.”
A meeting between Kim and Trump, who have exchanged bellicose insults in the past year that have raised fear of war, would be a major turnaround after a year in which North Korea has carried out a battery of tests aimed at developing a nuclear-tipped missile capable of hitting the US mainland.
“I told [Trump] that in our meeting that North Korean leader Kim Jong-un said that he’s committed to denuclearization,” Chung said. “Kim pledged that North Korea will refrain from any further nuclear or missile tests.”
“He expressed his eagerness to meet President Trump as soon as possible,” he said. “President Trump appreciated the briefing and said he would meet Kim Jong-un by May to achieve denuclearization.”
Trump’s aides have been wary of North Korea’s diplomatic overtures because of its history of reneging on international commitments.
Chung and National Intelligence Service chief Suh Hoon flew to Washington earlier on Thursday to explain North Korea’s stance on possible future talks with Washington and the prospect of Pyongyang suspending nuclear tests if the security of the North’s government is assured.
Earlier Thursday, US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said that though “talks about talks” might be possible with Pyongyang, denuclearization negotiations were likely a long way off.
Japanese Defense Minister Itsunori Onodera said in response to the announcement in Washington that North Korea must commit to abandoning nuclear development completely in order for meaningful talks to take place with Pyongyang.
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