Trump and Kim Jong-un: milestone meeting or skilful subterfuge?
US President Donald Trump has accepted an invitation to meet with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un by May.
The invitation to meet was delivered in person by South Korea's National Security Office head Chung Eui-yon, who met with Trump and key national security officials in the Oval Office on Thursday, according to a senior administration official who briefed reporters following the announcement.
Speaking outside the White House, a South Korean envoy said Kim "expressed eagerness to meet President Trump as soon as possible."
Kim has also pledged that his country will "refrain from any further nuclear or missile tests" while talks are underway, Chung said. "President Trump appreciated the briefing, and said he would meet him to achieve permanent denuclearization."
Both the time and place have yet to be discussed, according to the administration official, who emphasized that the development was just a meeting, and not a promise of sanctions relief or concessions from the United States.
"We're not even talking about negotiations. The president is not prepared to reward North Korea in exchange for talks, but he's willing to meet and he expects North Korea to start putting action to these words," the official said.
In the long term, the United States "will settle for nothing less than denuclearization. It's what we expect and what the world expects," he added.
The president has been coordinating closely with South Korea and Japan in recent weeks, the official said. Following his Oval Office meeting with South Korean diplomats, Trump spoke by phone Thursday evening with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, CNBC reported.
The White House confirmed that Trump had accepted Kim’s invitation. “President Trump greatly appreciates the nice words of the South Korean delegation and President Moon. He will accept the invitation to meet with Kim Jong Un at a place and time to be determined,” White House press secretary Sarah Sanders said in a statement. “We look forward to the denuclearization of North Korea. In the meantime, all sanctions and maximum pressure must remain.”
South Korean President Moon Jae-in in a statement read out by his spokesman on Friday reflected the hope and relief many here feel about the planned summit when he declared Friday that it will be a "historical milestone" that will put the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula "really on track."