South Korea: Trump to meet North's Kim by May

(KTVU)  President Trump has agreed to meet with North Korean President Kim Jong-un, in what would be an unprecedented summit between leaders of the two countries. No sitting U.S. President has met with a North Korean leader for seven decades, as the two countries technically are still at war.

The historic announcement was made by South Korea's national security director Chung Eui-yong, who spoke with reporters at a news conference on the White House driveway Thursday night. 

"Kim pledged that North Korea will refrain from any further nuclear or missile tests," said Chung, "He expressed his eagerness to meet President Trump as soon as possible. President Trump appreciated the briefing and would meet Kim Jong Un by May to achieve permanent denuclearization."

The new overtures of diplomacy are an about-face for both President Trump and Kim Jong-un. 

The two leaders had an escalation of verbal clashes over North Korea's ballistic missile tests, U.S. sanctions, and name-calling that included President Trump calling Lim "Little rocket man." Kim fired back calling President Trump a "mentally deranged dotard."

Chung said credit goes to President Trump and the international community. 

"His leadership and his "maximum pressure" policy, together with international solidarity brought us to this juncture," said Chung.

Paul Liem, Board Chairman Of The Korea Policy Institute says the timing of last month's Winter Olympics in South Korea helped ease tensions on the Korean peninsula, with North Korea sending a delegation and contributing athletes for a joint North and South Korean hockey team.

Liem says South Korean President Moon Jae-in also deserves credit for his diplomatic efforts. 

"The South Korean president stepping up and saying we have to stop the war games, we have to have a peaceful Olympics and we want the North Koreans to be there, that played a huge role," said Liem, "His ability to read not only the North Koreans but also the Trump administration and gain the trust of both sides  is really what is critical going forward." 

Liem says North Korea has been assessing President Trump and also gained confidence from the recent missile tests and growing nuclear capabilities.

"The United States assessed in a very short time that the North Koreans would be able to lob a nuclear weapon at the mainland of the United States," said Liem, "So in terms of negotiating with the United States I feel like they felt at that point that they had leverage that they didn't have before."

For many, the news is welcome. 

"I think that's fabulous news I'm so happy to hear that," said Jung Ran Kim of Berkeley, adding about Kim, "i think he's a young leader and he's kind of new and so wants to check out how I can be, where can I be as leader of North Korea?"

"I think it's a welcome move. I think talks have to happen for good to come for the Korean people," said Susan Han of San Francisco.

"My hope is that it will come back with a diplomatic solution because obviously we want peace, no war," said Vivian Phan of Oakland. 

President Trump sent out a tweet saying "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!

North and South Korea have agreed to hold a summit in April.


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