NORTH KOREA confirmed to the United States its readiness to discuss denuclearisation of the Korean peninsula during secret meetings between high ranking officials, a US official said Sunday.
This is the first time the North has communicated this to the United States ahead of leader Kim Jong Un’s highly anticipated meeting with US President Donald Trump later in the year.
According to CNN, Central Intelligence Agency Director and future-Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has been working through intelligence back channels to make preparations for the summit. This includes several discussions between American and North Korean officials, during which Pyongyang directly confirmed its willingness to discuss its nuclear weapons programme.
Although the North Korean regime has not publicly declared its invitation by Kim to meet with Trump, officials say Kim has acknowledged Trump’s acceptance and agreed to hold the unprecedented summit.
The invitation was extended last month by a South Korean envoy to the White House.
South Korea, who has until now served as the messenger between the two countries, welcomed the communication with one official calling the development “positive.”
“We are aware contact between North Korea and the United States is going well,” a presidential official told Reuters on condition of anonymity.
“We don’t know, however, up to what extent information is being shared between the two.”
It remains unclear where the Trump-Kim meeting will take place. According to a CNN source, the North Koreans are pushing to have the summit in their capital, Pyongyang. The White House, however, is unlikely to agree to this. Mongolian capital, Ulaanbaatar, has also reportedly been floated as a possible location.
Trump is due to meet with Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe in two weeks. Abe is expected to raise concerns about the opening talks with Kim.
North and South Korea will also hold their first summit in more than a decade towards the end of April.
In a surprise visit in late March, Kim met with Chinese President Xi Jinping in his first trip outside his country since he came to power in 2011. It was during these secret meetings that Kim’s willingness to discuss denuclearisation was known for the first time.