Trump agrees to talks with Kim Jong Un

A carnival float depicting North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and U.S. President Donald Trump at the traditional "Rosenmontag" Rose Monday carnival parade in Mainz, Germany, February 12, 2018. Source: Reuters/Ralph Orlowski

US PRESIDENT Donald Trump has agreed to meet with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un after an invitation from Kim was delivered to the White House by a South Korean envoy on Friday. The meeting will be the first time in a sitting US president has met with his North Korean counterpart.

Trump said on Twitter that there must be no missile testing by Pyongyang during the time leading to and during the talks that have been scheduled for May.

“Great progress being made but sanctions will remain until an agreement is reached,” the president said.

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A senior White House official made clear that the US will settle for nothing less than the permanent denuclearization of North Korea, according to Reuters.

At an announcement at the White House on Friday, South Korea’s National Security Office head Chung Eui-yong told reporters Kim has committed to “denuclearization” and to suspending nuclear or missile tests.

The 10-man South Korean delegation met with the North Korean leader in Pyongyang on Monday. Talks are a sign of thawing relationship between the Korea’s after an olive branch was offered at the Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang.

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.

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un inspects the long-range strategic ballistic rocket Hwasong-12 (Mars-12) in this undated photo released by North Korea’s Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) on May 15, 2017. Source: KCNA via Reuters

“I told him (Trump) that in our meeting that North Korean leader Kim Jong Un said that he’s committed to denuclearization,” Chung said. “Kim pledged that North Korea will refrain from any further nuclear or missile tests.”

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“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 denuclearization.”

Earlier Thursday, US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said that though “talks about talks” might be possible with Pyongyang, denuclearization 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.

Additional reporting by Reuters

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