North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has invited President Donald Trump to meet, and the president has agreed to the unprecedented meeting.
South Korean National Security Adviser Chung Eui-Yong, who recently led a delegation to Pyongyang for talks with senior North Korean leadership, briefed the White House on the recent meetings in the North Korean capital Thursday. Chung also delivered a message to Trump from Kim Jong Un personally inviting the president to meet the young dictator.
Chung told reporters Thursday night that North Korea is committed to denuclearization and stressed that Kim expressed “his eagerness to meet President Trump as soon as possible.” The South Korean envoy revealed that “President Trump appreciated the greeting and said he would meet Kim Jong un by May to achieve permanent denuclearization.”
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
This unusual overture follows a period of engagement between North and South Korea after a year of frequent nuclear and missile testing. The North has, according to South Korea, offered to put a moratorium on weapons testing while dialogue is underway.
Thursday’s incredible announcement represents a significant development given that just last summer, Trump was threatening North Korea with “fire and fury” and total destruction while Kim was warning that he would tame the president with fire.
It is unclear why North Korea is deciding to pursue dialogue now, but there is significant evidence that North Korea is struggling under the weight of the president’s maximum pressure strategy. There are also reportedly serious concerns about the “military option.” As Kim Jong Un likely aspires to survive the Trump presidency, these factors may be affecting his decision making.
At the same time, Kim has repeatedly heralded North Korea’s emergence as a nuclear power, so it is unclear whether Kim is approaching this landmark meeting from a position of confidence or desperation.
South Korea credits Trump for this remarkable moment, as Chung explained that the president’s “leadership and his maximum pressure policy together with international solidarity brought us to this juncture.”
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