The anticipated meeting in May between U.S. President Donald Trump and North Korea’s leader Kim Jong-un will take weeks to arrange, according to U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson.
In what’s being seen as a possible breakthrough, the two leaders will discuss nuclear weapons, suspension of North Korea’s missile tests and denuclearization.
“I think this was the the most forward-leaning report that we have had in terms of Kim Jong-un not just willingness but his strong desire for talks,” Tillerson said on Friday.
“So I think, really what changed was his posture, in a fairly dramatic way, that in all honesty, was a little of a surprise to us as well.”
The first face-to-face meeting between the two countries was announced by Chung Eui-yong, the head of South Korea’s National Security Office, on Thursday night.
Chung, who met with Kim on Monday, said that he has “committed to denuclearization.”
“He (Kim) expressed his eagerness to meet President Trump as soon as possible,” said Chung after briefing Trump.
“President Trump appreciated the briefing and said he would meet Kim Jong -un by May to achieve permanent denuclearization.”
Trump shared a statement on Twitter.
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) 2018年3月9日
Statement from Asia
South Korea, China and Japan had different reactions regarding the potential meeting, but overall they are positive.
South Korea’s President Moon Jae-in said that denuclearization and peace on the Korean Peninsula is beginning.
“I believe the Pyeongchang Olympics and Paralympics as well as our endeavors for peace will help create a new global peace. All the credit should go to those people around the world who wish for peace,” Mood said.
Geng Shuang, a spokesman at China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs said “we hope all parties will demonstrate political courage and make political decisions so as to conduct all necessary and useful bilateral and multilateral contacts as soon as possible.”
Geng also said “we have repeatedly emphasized that sanctions are only means instead of ends and that sanctions alone cannot lead to the denuclearization on the Peninsula.”
Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who will meet with Trump in April for a summit, said North Korea’s step toward denuclearization is completely verifiable and irreversible.
“I approve North Korea’s ‘change.’ This is a result of Japan and the U.S. cooperating together, plus our cooperation with South Korea and the international community, in continuously applying strong pressure (on North Korea),” Abe said.
Little Rocket Man
In 2017, North Korea proceeded with a rapid series of missile test.
The country has launched 23 missiles during 16 tests since February of last year, prompting Trump to call Kim “rocket man.”
Kim has only been in power for seven years but he has launched more missiles than past leaders Kim Il-sung and Kim Jong-Il combined.