Donald Trump agrees to meet North Korean leader Kim Jong Un: White House
US President Donald Trump has agreed to meet North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, at the latter’s invitation, at a time and place to be decided later, the White House said on Thursday.
The announcement followed consultations between American and South Korean officials, who had arrived early in the day carrying the invitation from Kim , whom they met in Pyongyang on Wednesday.
Chung Eui-yong, the South Korean National Security Adviser, said Kim had “expressed eagerness to meet President Trump as soon as possible” and added that the American leader had agreed and said he “will meet Kim by May”.
He added that the North Korean leader conveyed to the South Koreans that he was committed to denuclearisation and had “pledged” to suspend all nuclear and missile tests.
In a separate statement shortly afterwards, White House press secretary Sarah Sanders said the time and place for the meeting were yet to be decided.
“President Trump greatly appreciates the nice words of the South Korean delegation and President Moon (Jae-in). He will accept the invitation to meet with Kim Jong-un at a place and time to be determined,” she said, adding, “We look forward to the denuclearisation of North Korea. In the meantime, all sanctions and maximum pressure must remain.”
News of the talks offer by Kim was teased in a way by President Trump himself in a rare, unannounced appearance at the White House news briefing room. He told surprised reporters to be prepared for remarks from South Korean officials.
He followed it up with a tweet: “Kim Jong-un talked about denuclearisation with the South Korean Representatives, not just a freeze. Also, no missile testing by North Korea during this period of time. Great progress being made but sanctions will remain until an agreement is reached. Meeting being planned!”
Both the United States and South Korea welcomed the offer of talks and the suspension of missile and nuclear tests with caution. They have seen this before.
“The Republic of Korea, the United States, and our partners stand together in insisting that we not repeat the mistakes of the past, and that the pressure will continue until North Korea matches its words with concrete actions,” Chung said.
Kim’s offer of talks comes after months of escalating tension fuelled by a series of nuclear and missile tests by Pyongyang that included the launch of an Inter-Continental Ballistic Missile that could reach the American mainland. These were accompanied by a heated exchange of words between Trump and Kim. The American president warned North Korea he will rain “fire and fury” on it and will “completely destroy” it.
And it got personal. Trump, who likes short and sharp put-downs, began calling the North Korean leader “little Rocket Man” and a “sick puppy”.
Kim responded by calling Trump a “frightened dog”, a “gangster” and “dotard”, a term used for an old person who has become weak and senile.
But tempers cooled down around the Winter Olympics in South Korea in February. Kim sent his sister Kim Yo-jong to head the North’s delegation.
She was seated in the same VIP box as US vice president Mike Pence at the inauguration ceremony, but they barely even looked at each other.But she did meet and held talks over lunch with South Korean President Moon, who was elected last year on the promise of reconciliation with the estranged North.
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