World North Korea said to offer direct assurance it will discuss denuclearization

North Korea has told the United States that its leader, Kim Jong Un, is willing to discuss denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula, administration officials said on Sunday...

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North Korean leader Kim Jong Un (L) is said to be "taking stock" of US President Donald Trump's agreement to meet play

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un (L) is said to be "taking stock" of US President Donald Trump's agreement to meet

(KCNA VIA KNS/AFP/File)
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The North delivered its message in secret talks between its representatives and U.S. officials as they prepare for the summit meeting, which is expected to take place next month.

South Korean officials had informed Trump in March that the North Korean leader wanted to meet with him for nuclear talks — an invitation that the president enthusiastically accepted — but Pyongyang has been officially silent about the meeting.

On Sunday, the administration officials said the U.S. government had been working to lay the groundwork for the meeting, but would offer no details about it, such as where it might take place.

Talks between Trump and Kim would represent the first direct engagement between a sitting American president and a North Korean leader, bringing together two mercurial and headstrong leaders who have lobbed long-distance insults and bellicose threats at each other.

The Wall Street Journal first reported the direct confirmation by the North.

There is still no guarantee that the talks will happen, or that Kim is prepared to discuss denuclearization of the sort that the U.S. government envisions, which would entail entirely giving up the very weapons that the North has seen as crucial to its continued existence. It is also unclear what kind of concessions the United States would be willing to make to secure commitments from Pyongyang.

But the direct communication between the two countries about Kim’s intentions appeared to signal that both sides were working to plant the seeds for negotiations.

Before the president abruptly agreed to a summit meeting last month — a gesture that followed a sudden shift of his own by Kim toward talk of peace — the administration had done little planning for how a diplomatic negotiation would unfold, according to people briefed on the process.

This article originally appeared in The New York Times.

JULIE HIRSCHFELD DAVIS © 2018 The New York Times

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