(National Sentinel) Diplomacy: President Donald J. Trump has agreed to sit down with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un sometime in the next two months in what would be the first face-to-face talks between the leaders of both countries in decades.
The breakthrough comes at a time when North Korea is considered close to perfecting its nuclear weapons and missile programs but is being choked economically by crippling sanctions.
The New York Post reported that the historic meeting was set up by the South Korean government of President Moon Jae-in, who has always favored diplomacy over military action to settle the issue of the North’s nuclear program.
The Trump administration acknowledged Thursday that the invitation to meet was delivered to the White House, then provided some details outside the West Wing.
“He expressed his eagerness to meet President Trump as soon as possible,” South Korean National Security Director Chung Eui-yong said of Kim. “President Trump appreciated the briefing and said he would meet Kim Jong-Un by May to achieve permanent denuclearization.”
According to Chung, the North also agreed to suspend nuclear and missile tests during such future talks, something the U.S. has long demanded.
The administration said the meeting will be held “at a place and time to be determined.”
Trump announced the meeting in a tweet Thursday evening.
“Kim Jong Un talked about denuclearization with the South Korean Representatives, not just a freeze,” he wrote. “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!”
Trump and Kim have traded barbs over the past year, with the president labeling the North Korean leader “Little Rocket Man” and Kim called Trump a “mentally deranged U.S. dotard.”
Critics say it may be that Kim is merely buying time so he can complete his nuclear program, as North Korean leaders in the past have done. One of those critics is former UN Ambassador John Bolton, who served under George W. Bush.
“I would say that the reason the North is now trying to look reasonable is that they’re so close to succeeding in getting deliverable nuclear weapons that they want to get across the finish line by distracting us,” Bolton told Fox News‘ Laura Ingraham. “They’ve done it countless times before. It’s always worked for them.”
He said the U.S. should show that it has not been distracted by keeping up the sanctions and military pressure in the meantime.
He said Trump inherited a bad situation from Obama regarding North Korea, with equally bad options — letting the North get nuclear weapons or using military force to destroy the program, which could result in a nuclear exchange.
“And I think one thing the North now believes is that [Trump is] not afraid to carry through on that option,” Bolton said. “He doesn’t want to do it — let’s be clear. But unlike some of his predecessors, he’s not afraid to do it to protect American citizens. And that should have an effect on North Korea and China.”
There has never been a face-to-face meeting between an American and North Korean leader. The two countries remain technically at war following an armistice signed following the 1950-53 Korean War.
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