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19 Mar 2018 11:45
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  •   Home > News > International

    Donald Trump to meet Kim Jong-un after pledge to halt missile and nuclear tests

    The US President will meet with Kim Jong-un by May, South Korea's top security adviser announces at the White House, saying the North Korean leader has also committed to stopping his nation's nuclear and missile testing.

    US President Donald Trump has agreed to meet with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un by May, in a remarkable turnaround in relations between the two adversaries.

    The invitation for Mr Trump to meet with the leader of the rogue state came through South Korean national security director Chung Eui-yong.

    Mr Chung briefed Mr Trump and other top US officials about rare talks South Korean officials had held with Mr Kim in the North Koran capital of Pyongyang on Monday.

    Mr Chung confirmed to reporters outside the White House of the planned meeting between the US and North Korea.

    "[Mr Kim] expressed his eagerness to meet President Trump as soon as possible," he said.

    Mr Chung also announced that Mr Kim had committed to stopping North Korea's nuclear and missile testing.

    "President Trump appreciated the briefing and said he would meet Kim Jong-un by May to achieve permanent denuclearisation."

    But Mr Chung said pressure would continue on North Korea until it matched its words with concrete action.

    He also said Mr Kim "understands that the routine joint military exercises between the Republic of Korea and the United States must continue".

    The offer from Mr Kim to meet the US President is a shift in North Korea's usual sentiment of the US as war-mongering capitalist country.

    The offer is especially surprising considering that, in the last year, North Korea has threatened to target the US mainland with its rockets after Mr Trump called Mr Kim "Mr Evil President" and "Little Rocket Man".

    In September, 2017, Mr Kim was threatening to make Donald Trump "pay dearly" for his speech to the US General Assembly where he vowed to "totally destroy" North Korea.

    A meeting between the two leaders would mark a dramatic breakthrough in efforts to resolve the tense stand-off over North Korea's efforts to develop a nuclear-tipped missile capable of hitting the US.

    Meeting won't ease sanctions pressure

    White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders said Mr Trump would accept the invitation to meet Mr Kim at a place and time to be determined.

    "President Trump greatly appreciates the nice words of the South Korean delegation and President Moon," Ms Sanders said in a statement.

    "He will accept the invitation to meet with Kim Jong-un at a place and time to be determined.

    "We look forward to the denuclearisation of North Korea. In the meantime, all sanctions and maximum pressure must remain."

    Mr Trump said in a tweet that a meeting was being planned but reiterated that sanctions would remain in place in for the time being.

    A senior Trump administration official said they were only "talking about negotiations at this stage" and the President did not want to "reward North Korea for talks".

    "President Trump was elected because he is willing to take approaches different from past presidents and that couldn't me more clear than on North Korea policy," he said, adding Mr Trump had "a reputation for making deals".

    Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said he welcomed the "change in North Korea's stance", but agreed pressure on the country needed to continue.

    Mr Trump's aides have been wary of North Korea's diplomatic overtures because of its history of reneging on international commitments and the failure of disarmament efforts by the administrations of presidents Bill Clinton, George W Bush and Barack Obama.

    Mr 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 was assured.

    US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson had said though "talks about talks" might be possible with Pyongyang, denuclearisation negotiations were likely to be a long way off.

    Mr Chung's announcement came after a 10-member South Korean delegation went to North Korea earlier this week with hopes of encouraging North Korea and the US to talk to one another.

    Seoul has already publicised that North Korea offered talks with the United States on denuclearisation and normalising ties, a potential diplomatic opening after a year of escalating tensions over the North's nuclear and missile tests.

    The rival Koreas also agreed to hold a leadership summit in late April.

    Both the North and South also notably put their differences aside to present a joint Korean team at the Pyeongchang Winter Olympics.


    © 2018 ABC Australian Broadcasting Corporation. All rights reserved

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