Donald Trump and Kim Jong Un could meet by May to talk denuclearization
U.S. President Donald Trump has agreed to a meeting with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, the White House recently announced.
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un initially expressed an interest in meeting U.S. President Donald Trump, who praised the “great progress” on relations between the two countries and said a meeting was being planned.
South Korean officials passed on the message Thursday as a delegation from the country was in Washington to update the White House on their first face-to-face meeting with the North Korean leader.
WATCH: Meeting by Donald Trump and Kim Jong Un possible by May to talk denuclearization
Chung Eui-yong from South Korea’s National Security Office and Suh Hoon of the country’s National Intelligence Service met Kim on Monday.
Chung then made the announcement Thursday night at the White House, after meeting with U.S. officials.
Chung said Kim expressed his eagerness to meet with President Trump as soon as possible, and Trump said he would meet Kim by May to achieve permanent denuclearization.
“Kim pledged that North Korea will refrain from any further nuclear or missile tests. He understands that the routine joint military exercises between the Republic ofKorea and the United States must continue. And he expressed his eagerness to meet President Trump as soon as possible,” Chung said.
“President Trump appreciated the briefing and said he would meet Kim Jong Un by May to achieve permanent denuclearization.”
White House spokesperson Sarah Sanders said in a statement that Trump will accept 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. We look forward to the denuclearization of North Korea. In the meantime, all sanctions and maximum pressure must remain,” the statement read.
In a tweet Thursday night, Trump said “Great progress” was being made and a meeting was in works.
WATCH: Trump says he believes North Korea’s ‘sincere’ over openness to talk
Earlier in the day, the officials hand-delivered a letter to Trump from Kim, CNN reported, but no mention of the letter was made by Chung during the announcement.
The North had previously said the country would be willing to talk about abandoning its nuclear program and hold diplomatic talks with the South and the United States. But Chung said there will continue to be pressure until steps to denuclearization have been taken.
“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 clarified.
Tensions over North Korea rose to their highest in years in 2017. The Trump administration has warned that all options are on the table, including military ones, in dealing with Pyongyang, which has pursued its weapons programs in defiance of ever tougher UN sanctions.
WATCH: North Korea open to talks with U.S. and halting nuclear pursuit during negotiations: South (March 6)
Signs of a thaw emerged this year, with North and South Korea resuming talks and North Korea attending the Winter Olympics. During the Pyongyang talks this week, the two Koreas agreed to hold their first summit since 2007 in late April.
Although many experts are hailing this as a diplomatic breakthrough, some experts are wary and said there would still be many roadblocks to come.
*with files from Reuters
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