US President Donald Trump has agreed to meet Kim Jong Un, the head of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK), by May, the Republic of Korea (ROK) national security adviser Chung Eui-yong said on Thursday.
The announcement was made at the White House after ROK envoys briefed American officials on their meeting with Kim on Monday.
The DPRK has offered to refrain from further nuclear or missile tests, Chung said.
The envoy also said that Kim Jong Un understands that routine US-ROK military exercises must continue.
White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders said Trump will accept the invitation to meet “at a place and time to be determined.”
“We look forward to the denuclearization of NorthKorea (DPRK). In the meantime, all sanctions and maximum pressure must remain,” Sanders added.
On Thursday night Trump took to Twitter with a series of posts putting the potential meeting with Kim in a positive frame. “Kim Jong Un talked about denuclearization with South Korean Representatives, not just a freeze,” said one post. And Trump added: “Great progress being made but sanctions will remain until an agreement is reached. Meeting being planned!”
ROK and DPRK have agreed to hold a summit attended by their leaders late next month, ROK President Moon Jae-in’s top security adviser said Tuesday after his trip to the DPRK, according to Yonhap News Agency.
Joint military exercises
The United States plans to press ahead with potentially provocative joint military exercises with the ROK, a senior administration official said on Tuesday, despite a possible diplomatic breakthrough with Pyongyang.
“After the Olympics and Paralympics, it is only natural that our routine defensive exercises will resume,” the official said on condition of anonymity.
Washington had agreed to delay the massive joint “Foal Eagle” exercise until after the ROK-hosted Olympic Games, which ends on March 18.
Trump and Kim Jong Un: ‘probably’ good friends
“I probably have a very good relationship with Kim Jong Un,” Trump said in an interview with The Wall Street Journal in January. “I have relationships with people. I think you people are surprised.”
“You’ll see that a lot with me,” he said, “and then all of the sudden somebody’s my best friend. I could give you 20 examples. You could give me 30. I’m a very flexible person.”
“It could be something that could happen. I don’t know if it will but it would be very, very nice,” he added.
China: ‘suspension-for-suspension’ proposal has worked
Commenting on the recent ease of tensions on the Korean Peninsula, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi described it as a proof that China’s “suspension-for-suspension” proposal has worked.
Wang made the remarks at a press conference in Beijing on the sidelines of the first session of the 13th National People’s Congress (NPC), answering questions on China’s foreign policy and external relations.
“China’s suspension-for-suspension proposal has proven to be a right prescription for the problem,” he stressed. “It has created the basic conditions needed for improving inter-Korea relations.”
He urged all relevant parties to “demonstrate their seriousness about resolving the issue” and bring the situation back to the track of peaceful dialogue.
“Trump is a deal maker and probably believes he can single-handedly convince Kim Jong Un to give up his nuclea weapons. A Trump meeting with Kim presents both risks an opportunities,” said Bonnie Glaser, a China specialist at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, according to Reuters.
“Kim Jong Un’s desire to talk shows sanctions the administration has implemented are starting to work. We can pursue more diplomacy, as we keep applying pressure ounce-by-ounce. Remember, DPRK has repeatedly used talks and empty promises to extract concessions and buy time,” House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Ed Royce said.