Trump agrees to meet with North Korea’s Kim Jong Un

Un­prece­dented sum­mit after seven decades of an­i­mos­ity

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After months of trad­ing in­sults and threats of nu­clear an­ni­hi­la­tion, U.S. Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump agreed to meet with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un by May to ne­go­ti­ate an end to Py­ongyang’s nu­clear weapons pro­gram, South Korean and U.S. of­fi­cials said Thurs­day. No Amer­i­can pres­i­dent has ever met with a North Korea leader.

The South Korean na­tional se­cu­rity di­rec­tor, Chung Eui-yong, told re­porters out­side the White House of the planned sum­mit, after brief­ing Trump and other top U.S. of­fi­cials about a rare meet­ing with Kim in the North Korean cap­i­tal on Mon­day.

The meet­ing would be un­prece­dented dur­ing seven decades of an­i­mos­ity be­tween the U.S. and North Korea. The coun­tries do not even have for­mal diplo­matic re­la­tions. They re­main in a state of war be­cause the 1950-53 Korean War ended with an armistice and not a peace treaty.

Chung said he had told Trump that Kim says he’s com­mit­ted to “de­nu­cle­ariza­tion” and has pledged that North Korea will re­frain from any fur­ther nu­clear or mis­sile tests — pro­vid­ing a rare diplo­matic open­ing after a year of es­ca­lat­ing ten­sions over the North’s tests. The ri­val Koreas have al­ready agreed to hold a lead­er­ship sum­mit in late April.

“He (Kim) ex­pressed his ea­ger­ness to meet Pres­i­dent Trump as soon as pos­si­ble,” Chung said. “Pres­i­dent Trump ap­pre­ci­ated the brief­ing and said he would meet Kim Jong Un by May to achieve per­ma­nent de­nu­cle­ariza­tion.”

Chung did not say where Trump would meet with Kim. The White House said Trump’s meet­ing with Kim would take place “at a place and time to be de­ter­mined.”

Trump took of­fice vow­ing to stop North Korea from at­tain­ing a nu­clear-tipped mis­sile that could reach the U.S. main­land.

He’s os­cil­lated be­tween threats and in­sults di­rected at Kim, and more con­cil­ia­tory rhetoric. His more bel­li­cose talk, and Kim’s nu­clear and mis­sile tests, have fu­eled fears of war.

THE AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS file

a tele­vi­sion screen at the Seoul Train Sta­tion in South Korea shows U.S. pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un in au­gust last year.

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