Donald Trump to meet Kim Jon-un in May, creating history
US President Donald Trump is set to have historic talks with the North's Kim Jong-un by May
Donald Trump has accepted an invitation from the North Korean leader, Kim Jong-un, to hold an unprecedented summit meeting to discuss the future of the embattled regime's nuclear and missile programme.
In a stunning development following months of tension and mutual sabre-rattling, senior South Korean officials appeared outside the White House to announce the news, having verbally conveyed Kim's invitation to Trump. The White House confirmed Trump was ready to meet Kim "by May", at a time and location yet to be determined.
If the meeting takes place, it would be the first ever between leaders of the two countries. Pyongyang has long sought a summit with the US to reflect what the regime sees as its status as a regional military power. Bill Clinton came close to agreeing to a meeting with Kim's father, Kim Jong-il, in 2000, but arrangements had not been made by the time he left office in January 2001.
Administration officials portrayed the invitation as a victory for Trump's policy of "maximum pressure" and stressed that the US would not relax its stringent sanctions regime before North Korea began disarming. The US Secretary of State, Rex Tillerson, said Trump had taken the decision to hold talks after the US was surprised at how "forward-leaning" Kim was in his conversations with a visiting South Korean delegation.
Pak Song-il, North Korea's ambassador to the UN, praised Kim for his "broad-minded" and "courageous" decision. He advised the US to contribute to peace by bringing a "sincere position and serious attitude". In recent months, Trump has belittled Kim as the "rocket man", while Kim has called Trump "a mentally deranged US dotard".
Russia, China, Japan and south korea hail meeting
Geng Shuang, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson
'We welcome the positive message that North Korea and the US sent out on their direct dialogue'
Shinzo Abe, Japanese PM
'I highly appreciate North Korea's change that it will begin talks on the premise of denuclearisation'
Moon Jae-in, South Korean President
'If President Trump and Chairman Kim meet, complete denuclearisation of the Korean peninsula will be put on the right track in earnest'
Sergei Lavrov, Russian Foreign Minister
'We do hope that this meeting is going to take place. It is required to normalise the situation around the Korean peninsula'
No. of ballistic missile tests carried out by Pyongyang last year