Friday 23 March 2018

Donald Trump ready to meet North Korean leader Kim Jong Un -South Korean official

  • Trump to accept invitation to meet Kim -White House spokeswoman

  • Meeting between Trump & Kim would be breakthrough in crisis

  • Kim committed to denuclearisation -South Korean security adviser

Kim Jong Un and Donald Trump. Photo: Reuters
Kim Jong Un and Donald Trump. Photo: Reuters
North Korea's leader Kim Jong Un inspects artillery launchers ahead of a military drill marking the 85th anniversary of the establishment of the Korean People's Army (KPA) on April 25, 2017. KCNA/File Photo via REUTERS
Kim Jong-un has alarmed the world with his missile testing. Picture: AP
Kim Jong Un inspects a warhead

David Brunnstrom and Matt Spetalnick

President Donald Trump is ready to meet North Korean leader Kim Jung by May in response to Kim's invitation to hold the first-ever US-North Korea summit, a South Korean envoy said, marking a potentially dramatic breakthrough in the North Korea nuclear standoff.

Kim has committed to "denuclearisation" 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 denuclearisation 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 him (Trump) that in our meeting that North Korean leader Kim Jong Un said that he's committed to denuclearisation," 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 denuclearisation."

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, denuclearisation 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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