Trump and North Korea's Kim Jong-un to meet 'as soon as possible'
[March 09 2018]
North Korean leader Kim Jong-un has invited Donald
Trump to meet him, an unprecedented overture which the US leader has
said he will accept.
The shock announcement was made by senior South Korean
officials in Washington, who passed on a letter from the North Korean
They said Mr Kim had also agreed to halt nuclear and
missile tests and was "committed to denuclearisation".
It appears to be a major breakthrough after months of
threats and violence.
However analysts warn that such summits are usually
the result of years of careful diplomacy so remain sceptical about what
these rapidly arranged talks can achieve.
No serving US president has ever sat down for talks with a North Korean leader
Mr Trump said the development was "great progress" but
that sanctions will remain in place until a firm agreement is reached.
North Korea has not yet issued any official comment on
the week's developments.
South Korean National security adviser Chung Eui-yong,
speaking outside the White House after the meeting, said: "I told
President Trump that at our meeting North Korean leader Kim Jong-un said
he's committed to denuclearisation."
He added: "President Trump appreciated the briefing,
and said he would meet Kim Jong-un by May to achieve permanent
How did we reach this point?
North Korea has been isolated on the international
stage for decades because of its well-documented human rights abuses and
its pursuit of nuclear weapons, in defiance of international laws.
Kim Jong-un had what appeared to be a cordial dinner with South Korean officials this week
It says it needs nuclear weapons and missiles because
its survival is under threat though it's still unclear whether it could
carry out a long-distance nuclear attack.
But South Korea's hosting of the Winter Olympics gave
an unexpected window for diplomacy, as The South Korean delegation They
returned with a statement saying the North was willing to denuclearise
if it felt "it has no reason to retain nukes".
What has North Korea actually pledged?
There are four main things:
Mr Kim is prepared to sit down with the US
It is "committed to denuclearisation"
It will halt all nuclear and missile tests
It understands that US-South Korean military drills
The BBC's Laura Bicker in Seoul says it is important
to note that North Korea has not yet promised to abandon its nuclear
weapons completely. It also remains unclear exactly what it is asking
for in return.
The North has halted missile and nuclear tests during
previous talks before, only to resume when it lost patience or felt it
was not getting what it demanded.
The South Korean-US drills are a source of intense frustration for Pyongyang
The last point is also significant. The US has had
tens of thousands of military personnel in South Korea since the end of
the Korea War. The massive annual joint war games infuriate the North,
because it believes they are preparation for invasion.
They were due to take place during the Olympics
Is this a victory for Trump?
Mr Trump has repeatedly belittled Kim Jong-un, and the
likes of which the world has never seen before" if he continued to
threaten the US. He has at times said there is no point in talking to
North Korea's charm offensive during the Winter Olympics included deploying its famed cheerleading squad at matches
But Mr Chung made a point of saying it was Mr Trump's
"maximum pressure policy" which had brought the parties to this point.
Christopher Hill, formerly the US negotiator with
North Korea, told the BBC Mr Trump may have frightened Pyongyang by
"looking at options that many American presidents would not have gone
But he has also shown flexibility to meet people other
presidents might have dismissed, he says.
Our correspondent in Seoul says Kim Jong-un has also
scored a propaganda win, first with the Olympics and now by being seen
to reach out to the US.
What about the other major players?
The South's statement also credited "international
solidarity" for reaching this point.
The heavily guarded DMZ has been the location of landmark talks in the past
That is likely in part a reference to international
sanctions, which have increased with each North Korean show of force.
China, North Korea's main economic supporter, has in
recent months toughened up its dealings with the North, including on key
areas like petroleum and oil. This is thought to be putting a major
strain on the North.
so will welcome this development.
Japan, which saw North Korean missiles fly over its
territory twice last year, is routinely distrustful of Pyongyang's
motives, saying it must commit to giving up its weapons before any talks
can take place.
Prime Minister Shinzo Abe welcomed news of a Trump-Kim
meeting, but said: "We will keep putting maximum pressure until North
Korea takes concrete actions toward denuclearisation."
Have talks like this happened in the past?
No sitting US president has ever met a North Korean
leader, but there have been repeated attempts to get North Korea to
The last major effort - the Six Party talks -
collapsed in 2008, largely because North Korea refused to allow
inspectors to verify that it had shut down its nuclear programme.
A number of bids to restart the talks also collapsed,
including in 2012 when North Korea launched another rocket, two weeks
after announcing a "leap day" agreement with the US.
Courtesy : BBC News
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