President Donald Trump has accepted North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un’s dramatic offer to meet, the White House has confirmed.
South Korea’s national security adviser Chung Eui-yong first announced the face-to-face and claimed it was due to take place by May.
However, a statement from the White House did not confirm the two-month timeframe and said the place and time of the meeting was still being worked out.
Governments around the world welcomed the announcement, with praise coming from the UK, Russia and Australia.
‘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,’ White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders said in a statement a half hour after South Korea’s announcement.
‘We look forward to the denuclearization of North Korea. In the meantime, all sanctions and maximum pressure must remain.’
Chung, who made the announcement on behalf of South Korea, led the delegation visiting North Korea earlier this week. The invitation to meet Trump was made to him directly by Kim.
The foreign official said that Kim understands and accepts the fact that joint U.S.-South Korean military exercises will continue and that he also made promises to halt nuclear and ballistic tests until the meeting with Trump takes place.
President Donald Trump has accepted North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un’s dramatic offer to meet, and he’ll do it by May, a South Korean official said Thursday evening
Trump popped into the White House press briefing room on Thursday evening and told a small contingent of reporters who just happened to be present that an announcement was coming this evening
A U.S. official later said the meeting would take place in ‘a matter of a couple of months’ but did not commit the president to a face-to-face with Kim this spring.
‘He conveyed that he wants to meet with President Trump as quickly as possible,’ the senior official stated.
The official said the stiff punishing actions on North Korea would also stay in place.
‘At this point we’re not even talking about negotiations,’ the U.S. official said of a plan to hold North Korea to its word that it would freeze its illicit nuclear and ballistic missile development programs.
President Trump reiterated the point in a tweet that followed.
‘Kim Jong Un talked about denuclearization with the South Korean Representatives, not just a freeze. Also, no missile testing by North Korea during this period of time. Great progress being made but sanctions will remain until an agreement is reached. Meeting being planned!’ the U.S. president said.
The planned meeting drew immediate praise from other nations.
A spokesperson for the British government said, ‘The UK welcomes the South Korean announcement that Kim Jong Un has made a renewed commitment to denuclearise and will refrain from further nuclear missile tests while dialogue continues.
‘We welcome the announcement of direct talks with President Trump by May and (South Korean) President Moon Jae-in in April.
‘We have always been clear that we want Kim Jong Un to change path and put the welfare of his people ahead of the illegal pursuit of nuclear weapons.
‘We will continue to work closely with the US, South Korea and the international community to ensure that pressure on North Korea continues and sanctions are strictly enforced until Kim Jong Un matches his words with concrete actions. We will continue to monitor developments closely.’
Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov also welcomed the news, saying that Russia considers the move ‘a step in the right direction.’
He went on to express hope that an agreement would be implemented because it is ‘necessary for normalizing the situation around the Korean peninsula.’
Australia’s former prime minister expressed surprise at how ‘surprisingly good’ Trump has been at foreign policy compared to his predecessors.
Paul John Keating said the United States was directionless under the previous three administrations and Barack Obama blew an opportunity to reshape the world.
On Friday Keating said he had not expected Trump to have ‘such a pragmatic’ foreign policy on China and Russia, and he urged the U.S. president to continue down the path he was on.
Meanwhile, the foreign ministry in China – North Korea’s key ally – said it hopes all parties to the will ‘show their political courage’ in restarting negotiations, and pledged its support in working toward that goal.
Spokesman Geng Shuang on Friday said China welcomes and supports the ‘positive inter-Korean and U.S.-North Korea interactions.’
Geng told reporters at a regularly scheduled press briefing that China hope that all parties ‘will continue to strive for the political resolution and lasting peace and stability on the peninsula.’