U.S. President Donald Trump is set to meet with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un around May after the inter-Korean summit in April in a dramatic development from war-like tensions due to North Korea’s repeated nuclear and missile provocations last year.
“President U.S. Trump 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,” White House press secretary Sarah Sanders said in a statement.
Later on Thursday evening, Trump tweeted, “Kim Jong-un talked about denuclearization with the South Korean representatives, not just a freeze…Great progress being made but sanctions will remain until an agreement is reached. Meeting being planned!.”
The stunning news uplifted Korean asset prices.
At 1:00 p.m. Friday, the main Korean stock price index was up 1.4 percent at 2,466.64, and the secondary Kosdaq 1.5 percent at 866.89. The won gained 4.00 won at 1,068.00 against the U.S. dollar.
The announcement came after Chung Eui-yong, National Security Office chief who headed a special envoy team to Pyongyang, briefed White House on the results of the meeting with Kim including his proposal to meet Trump in person.
Upon returning from a two-day stay in Pyongyang, Chung on Wednesday said the two Korean leaders would be meeting in late April in the southern side of the truce village of Panmunjom upon agreement that Pyongyang is committed to a denuclearization scheme and will hold off military provocations while dialogue is underway.
Should the meeting take place, it would be the first time ever for U.S. and North Korean leaders to meet. The two Koreas, which remain technically at war after the 1950-1953 Korean War ended in an armistice, have held summit meetings in 2000 and 2007, both in Pyongyang, hosted by Kim’s father Kim Jong-il.
The younger Kim, who has braved Trump and the rest of the world with tests of intercontinental ballistic missile that puts the U.S. mainland in target and nuclear weapons capable of being mounted on a long-range missile, suddenly turned conciliatory and sent his younger sister to the opening ceremony of PyeongChang Winter Olympics in the South with a surprising gambit of inviting Moon to Pyongyang.
By Kang Gye-man and Kim Hyo-jin