WASHINGTON, U.S. - South Korea’s top national security officials, who visited Washington carrying a special message from the North Korean leader Kim Jong Un met their U.S. counterparts and delivered the message.
The special message was that Kim Jong Un wants to meet the U.S. President Donald Trump.
Lt. Gen. H.R. McMaster, the White House national security adviser, as well as officials from the State Department met with South Korea’s national-security adviser, Chung Eui-yong, and intelligence chief, Suh Hoon on Thursday.
The two South Korean officials, who met with North Korea’s leader Kim Jong Un, earlier this week, carried the invitation for Trump, from North Korea’s belligerent leader.
Speaking to reporters at the White House, after delivering the invitation to the American president, South Korea’s national security adviser said that Kim Jong Un has asked Trump for talks.
The official from South Korea also said that Trump has agreed to meet him “by May.”
Chung Eui-yong further told reporters that Kim Jong Un has committed to stopping nuclear and missile testing, even during joint military drills in South Korea next month.
Chung said that Kim Jong Un “expressed his eagerness to meet President Trump as soon as possible. President Trump said he would meet Kim Jong Un by May.”
However, he did not provide any information on where the meeting would be.
Meanwhile, the presidential Blue House in Seoul clarified that the meeting would occur by the end of May.
Later, the White House also confirmed that Trump had accepted Kim Jong Un’s invitation to meet.
White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said in a statement, “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. We look forward to the denuclearization of North Korea. In the meantime, all sanctions and maximum pressure must remain.”
Chung visited Washington, after leading the South Korean delegation to North Korea earlier this week.
In Pyongyang, he is said to have had a cordial four-hour dinner with the reclusive North Korean leader.
Kim Jong Un and his senior cadres expressed a willingness to hold talks with the U.S. during that meeting and was prepared to discuss denuclearization and normalizing relations.
After returning to Seoul, Chung said that the North Korean leader is also said to have “made it clear” in the meeting that his country would not resume provocations while engaging in talks.
Speaking at the White House, Chung credited Trump for bringing the North Korean leader to the table.
He further said, “I explained to President Trump that his leadership and his maximum pressure policy, together with international solidarity, brought us to this juncture.”
Meanwhile, North Korea’s ambassador to the United Nations in New York, who is responsible for handling communications with the U.S. said in a statement that the invitation was the result of Kim Jong Un’s “broad minded and resolute decision” to contribute to the peace and security of the Korean Peninsula.
Pak Song Il was quoted as saying that by the “great courageous decision of our Supreme Leader, we can take the new aspect to secure the peace and stability in the Korean Peninsula and the East Asia region.”
He added that the decision to hold the meeting was consistent with North Korea’s principle that the issues should be solved through negotiation.
Adding, “The United States should know and understand our position and should further contribute to the peace and security-building in the Korean Peninsula with [a] sincere position and serious attitude.”
According to some analysts however, Kim Jong Un’s is suddenly interested in talks because the sanctions are beginning to hurt, while others have alleged that it is because he is genuinely afraid of American military strikes.
Others however, believe that the North Korean leader might be feeling more confident that ever.
In November last year, Kim Jong Un declared that he had “completed” his missile program and is now ready to deal with the U.S., as nuclear state to nuclear state.
The meeting between the American and North Korean leaders is set to go down in history since both the countries have been sworn enemies for 70 years now.
Further, the prospect of a meeting between Donald Trump and Kim Jong Un comes after the two have hurled increasingly personal insults at each other for over a year now.
While North Korea has called Trump a “dotard” and a “lunatic,” Kim Jong Un has been labeled the “little rocket man” by the American president.
Trump has, at the same time repeatedly said he would be willing to engage in talks with Kim Jong Un, saying at one point last year that he would be honored to meet the North Korean leader, whom he tagged as a “tough cookie.”
Trump has also said that while he wouldn’t host Kim Jong Un for a state visit, he would be happy to sit down for hamburgers at a boardroom table with the North Korean leader.