North Korea has told the US for the first time that it is prepared to discuss denuclearization when a summit meeting takes place between leaders of the two nations, Reuters reports, citing an unidentified US official.
US and North Korean officials have held secret contacts recently in which Pyongyang directly confirmed its willingness to hold the unprecedented summit, the source was also quoted as saying on Sunday.
The communications have involved State Department officials talking to North Korea apparently through its United Nations mission, and intelligence officers from both sides using a separate backchannel, the official said.
South Korean envoys visited Washington last month to convey North Korean leader Kim Jong-un’s invitation for a meeting with US President Donald Trump.
Trump, who has exchanged bellicose threats with Kim in the past year, surprised the world by quickly agreeing to meet Kim to discuss the crisis over Pyongyang’s development of nuclear weapons capable of hitting the US.
But Pyongyang has not broken its public silence on the summit, which US officials say is being planned for May.
There was no immediate word on the possible venue for the talks, which would be the first ever between a sitting US president and North Korean leader, Reuters noted.
The US official declined to say exactly when the US-North Korea communications had taken place but said the two sides had held multiple direct contacts, it said.
“The US has confirmed that Kim Jong-un is willing to discuss the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula,” a second US official told Reuters.
Questions remain about how North Korea would define denuclearization, which Washington sees as Pyongyang abandoning its nuclear weapons program.
North Korea has said over the years that it could consider giving up its nuclear arsenal if the US removes its troops from South Korea and withdrew its so-called nuclear umbrella of deterrence from South Korea and Japan.
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