Trump to meet North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un

The two leaders are to meet in person as early as May, to discuss the future of the embattled regime’s nuclear and missile programme

The South Korean delegation briefed Donald Trump after their meeting with Kim Jong-un (Photo: Reuters)
The South Korean delegation briefed Donald Trump after their meeting with Kim Jong-un (Photo: Reuters)

North Korean leader Kim Jong-un and US President Donald Trump are to meet in person as early as May, it has been announced.

In an extraordinary overture after months of mutual hostility, the two will meet, according to South Korean officials after talks with Trump at the White House.

They passed a verbal message from Kim, saying the North Korean leader was "committed to denuclearisation".

South Korea's President Moon Jae-in said the news "came like a miracle".

"If President Trump and Chairman Kim meet following an inter-Korean summit, complete denuclearisation of the Korean Peninsula will be put on the right track in earnest," he said.

The two will hold an unprecedented summit meeting to discuss the future of the embattled regime’s nuclear and missile programme.

Trump said the development was "great progress" but that sanctions on North Korea would remain in place until a firm agreement was reached.

In a statement sent to the Washington Post, North Korea's UN ambassador said the "courageous decision" of Kim would helped secure "peace and stability in the Korean Peninsula and the East Asia region".

If the meeting takes place it would be the first ever between leaders of the two countries. Pyongyang has long sought a summit with the US to reflect what the regime sees as its status as a regional military power. Bill Clinton came close to agreeing to a meeting with Kim’s father, Kim Jong-il, in 2000, but arrangements had not been made by the time he left office in January 2001.

Administration officials on Thursday portrayed the invitation as a victory for Trump’s policy of “maximum pressure” and stressed that the US would not relax its stringent sanctions regime before North Korea began disarming. A senior official said Trump “is not prepared to reward North Korea in exchange for talks”.

Pak Song-il, North Korea’s ambassador to the UN, praised Kim for his “broad-minded” and “courageous” decision in quotes reported by the Washington Post. He advised the US to contribute to peace by bringing a “sincere position and serious attitude”.

Trump himself confirmed the meeting in a tweet, adding that US sanctions would remain in place until a denuclearisation deal was achieved.

In a statement, the White House said: “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. We look forward to the denuclearisation of North Korea. In the meantime, all sanctions and maximum pressure must remain.”

There is no indication yet of where talks might take place, but the Korean border and Beijing as seen as likely options.

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