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9 Mar 2018

President Trump accepts Kim Jong-un’s invitation to meet before summer

The US president said ‘great progress’ is being made after it was revealed he had accepted an offer of a summit from North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.
President Trump and Kim Jong Un
Trump added that his counterpart had agreed to halt missile testing ahead of the meeting, to happen by May, and discussed denuclearisation with South Korean officials during a recent meeting.

However sanctions will remain in place on North Korea ‘until an agreement is reached’, Trump confirmed. The remarkable turnaround in relations between two historic adversaries was announced by South Korean national security director Chung Eui-yong.

Mr Chung made a statement outside the White House after briefing Trump and other top US officials about a rare encounter with Mr Kim in Pyongyang on Monday.

‘He expressed his eagerness to meet President Trump as soon as possible,’ Mr Chung said. ‘President Trump appreciated the briefing and said he would meet Kim Jong Un by May to achieve permanent denuclearisation.’

The White House said the meeting between Mr Trump and his North Korean counterpart will be held ‘at a place and time to be determined’.

Seoul has already publicised that North Korea offered talks with the United States on denuclearisation and normalising ties, a potential diplomatic opening after a year of escalating tensions over the North’s nuclear and missile tests.

The rival Koreas also agreed to hold a leadership summit in late April. No serving American president has ever met with a North Korean leader and the US and North Korea do not have formal diplomatic relations.

The two nations remain in a state of war because the 1950-53 Korean War ended with an armistice and not a peace treaty. Trump took office vowing to stop North Korea from attaining a nuclear-tipped missile that could reach the US mainland.

The president oscillated between threats and insults directed at Mr Kim, and more conciliatory rhetoric.

His more bellicose talk, and Mr Kim’s nuclear and missile tests, have fuelled fears of war. Trump, who has ramped up economic sanctions on North Korea to force it to negotiate on giving up its nuclear weapons, has threatened the pariah nation with ‘fire and fury’ if its threats against the US and its allies continued. He has derided Mr Kim by referring to him as ‘Little Rocket Man’.

After Mr Kim repeated threats against the US in a New Year’s address and mentioned the ‘nuclear button’ on his office desk, Trump responded by tweeting that he has a nuclear button, too, ‘but it is a much bigger & more powerful one than his, and my button works!’

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