Donald Trump Accepts North Korea's Invitation To Meet Kim Jong-Un
US President Donald Trump has accepted a surprise invitation to meet North Korean leader Kim Jong-un 'by May', in order to discuss the Asian nation's controversial nuclear and missile programme.
Relations between the two countries seemed to be at a low ebb last year, with the two strongmen leaders trading insults on a regular basis.
However, following the Winter Olympics, there seems to have been a thaw in the icy relations between North Korea and the USA, with a meeting now mooted as a strong possibility.
Leaders of the USA and North Korea have never met in the past, despite attempts by Bill Clinton towards the end of his tenure in 2000. As such, it would be a stunning development.
The White House see the invite as a vindication of its hardline against North Korea, having introduced strong sanctions since Donald Trump came to office. In September 2017, he issued an executive order allowing the US to cut ties with any financial system or company working in or with North Korea, and also banned North Korean nationals from entering the USA.
In a tweet, Trump talked of 'progress' but said sanctions would remain in place until an agreement was reached.
As The Guardian reports, the development was met with cautious optimism around the world, particularly from South Korea, whose relatively new president - since May 2017 - praised the potential for a meeting as an 'historic milestone'.
The news was announced by South Korea's national security director Chung Eui-yong and later published on the official White House website.
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"I explained to President Trump that his leadership and his maximum pressure policy, together with international solidarity, brought us to this juncture," he said.
"I expressed President Moon Jae-in's personal gratitude for President Trump's leadership."
"I told President Trump that, in our meeting, North Korean leader Kim Jong-un said he is committed to denuclearisation. Kim pledged that North Korea will refrain from any further nuclear or missile tests. He understands that the routine joint military exercises between the Republic of Korea and the United States must continue."
Military exercises in the Korean peninsula have been a source of controversy and tension between North Korea and both South Korea and the USA.
Chung went on to say: "President Trump appreciated the briefing and said he would meet Kim Jong-un by May to achieve permanent denuclearisation.
"The Republic of Korea, the United States, and our partners stand together in insisting that we not repeat the mistakes of the past, and that the pressure will continue until North Korea matches its words with concrete actions."
Other leaders around the world expressed optimism, including Japan's Shinzo Abe, who has been wary of North Korea's intentions.
Last Thursday, he said that 'talks for the sake of talks are meaningless', but is reported to have spoken to the US president shortly before the 'meeting' was announced.
Featured Image Credit: PA