Donald Trump will become the first U.S. president in history to meet with North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un. The meeting was announced Thursday by South Korea’s national security adviser Chung Eui-yong, who claimed a face-to-face meeting would take place by the end of May.
Last summer, tensions mounted as the U.S. slapped the communist nation with massive economic sanctions and the president promised to rain down “fire and fury” on North Korea if they continued to threaten a nuclear attack on the United States.
Following more recent talks with South Korea, however, Kim Jong-un indicated that he would be willing to negotiate the denuclearization of his regime in exchange for his state’s guaranteed security.
Chung Eui-yong said he had passed on a message that Mr. Kim was “committed to denuclearization” and “pledged that North Korea will refrain from any further nuclear or missile tests.”
South Korea’s President Moon Jae-in said the news “came like a miracle,” according to the BBC.
“If President Trump and Chairman Kim meet following an inter-Korean summit, complete denuclearization of the Korean peninsula will be put on the right track in earnest,” he said.
In addition, North Korea’s UN ambassador reportedly told the Washington Post that the “courageous decision” of Mr Kim would help secure “peace and stability in the Korean Peninsula and the East Asia region.”
While the South Koreans insisted that a meeting would take place before May of this year, this crucial detail was not reiterated by White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders.
.@POTUS greatly appreciates the nice words of the S. Korean delegation & Pres Moon. He will accept the invitation to meet w/ Kim Jong Un at a place & time to be determined. We look forward to the denuclearization of NK. In the meantime all sanctions & maximum pressure must remain
— Sarah Sanders (@PressSec) March 9, 2018
The President, clearly delighted by the diplomatic progress, tweeted:
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!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) March 9, 2018
U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, who will undoubtedly become a central figure in organizing the bilateral talks, said it would take “some weeks” to arrange the meeting and admitted the US had been “surprised” at Kim Jong-un’s “forward-leaning” stance.
“That is a decision the president took himself. I spoke to him very early this morning about that decision and we had a very good conversation,” Tillerson said from the African nation of Djibouti, as reported by the Daily Mail.
“President Trump has said for some time that he was open to talks and he would willingly meet with Kim when conditions were right. And I think in the president’s judgment that time has arrived now.”
It is no secret that President Trump has been extremely tough on the North Koreas. In a speech to the UN General Assembly last September, the President said that if America “is forced to defend ourselves or our allies, we will have no choice but to totally destroy North Korea.”
But Mr. Chung pointed out that it was Mr. Trump’s “maximum pressure policy” which had brought the parties to this point.
“I explained to President Trump that his leadership and his maximum pressure policy, together with international solidarity, brought us to this juncture. I expressed President Moon Jae-in’s personal gratitude for President Trump’s leadership,” Chung said in his press briefing.
“Kim pledged that North Korea will refrain from any further nuclear or missile tests. He understands that the routine joint military exercises between the Republic of Korea and the United States must continue. And he expressed his eagerness to meet President Trump as soon as possible.”
“President Trump appreciated the briefing and said he would meet Kim Jong-un by May to achieve permanent denuclearization.”
Trump, clearly optimistic about the potential meeting the North Korean dictator, did strike a note of caution.
“They seem to be acting positively, but we’re gonna see,” he said.
As Faithwire previously reported, Chung made astonishing progress with the North Koreans earlier this week.
“The North side clearly affirmed its commitment to the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula and said it would have no reason to possess nuclear weapons should the safety of its regime be guaranteed and military threats against North Korea removed,” the national security adviser said following the meetings in Pyongyang.