US President Donald Trump today said he has agreed to meet North Korea's top leader Kim Jong-Un by May, setting the stage for a historic summit between the two leaders who have repeatedly traded insults amid spiralling tensions over Pyongyang's nuclear and missile programmes.
Speaking outside the White House after briefing Trump, South Korean National Security Adviser Chung Eui-yong said he had passed on a message that Chairman Kim was "committed to denuclearisation" and had "pledged that North Korea will refrain from any further nuclear or missile tests".
The White House said Trump had agreed to the proposed face-to-face meeting. "He will accept the invitation to meet with Kim Jong-Un at a place and time to be determined," said White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders.
The announcement came amid months of tension between the two adversaries.
If the meeting takes place, it would be the first ever between leaders of the two countries.
Trump himself confirmed the meeting in a tweet, adding that US sanctions would remain in place until a denuclearisation deal was achieved.
"Kim Jong-Un talked about denuclearisation 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!," Trump tweeted.
North Korea last year increased the pace of its missile programme. On November 29 last year, the North Korean leader said that his country had achieved full nuclear statehood after what he said was the successful test of a new missile capable of striking anywhere in the United States.
Fears of a catastrophic conflict between the US and North Korea spiked as the leaders of the two nations taunted each other, with the US President Donald Trump calling North Korean leader Kim 'Rocket Man'.
The two nations had recently threatened to wipe each other out.
Trump's decision to meet Kim, after a year in which the two have repeatedly traded insults, is being seen as a remarkable breakthrough.
Reading from a prepared statement, Chung said the North Korean leader has expressed his "eagerness to meet with President Trump as soon as possible."
Chung attributed the North Korean turnaround to Trump's leadership and his maximum pressure policy together with international solidarity.
In his meeting with the North Korean leader, Chung said Trump is committed to denuclearisation of the Korean Peninsula.
"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. He expressed his eagerness to meet President Trump as soon as possible," he said.
"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," the South Korean national security adviser said.
According to a senior administration official, Trump may meet the North Korean leader in couple of months.
Congressman Ed Royce, Chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, said Kim's desire to talk shows sanctions the administration has implemented are starting to work.
"We can pursue more diplomacy, as we keep applying pressure ounce by ounce. Remember, North Korean regimes have repeatedly used talks and empty promises to extract concessions and buy time," he said.
Trump's decision is a remarkable breakthrough. It brings the North Korean regime close to its long-desired aim of recognition on the international stage, and offers Trump the tantalising prospect of a historic diplomatic victory. But the consequences of such a high-stakes gamble remain hard to predict, CNN commented.
Meanwhile, Trump also spoke to Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and agreed to maintain pressure on North Korea till the time it takes tangible steps toward complete, verifiable, and irreversible denuclearisation, the White House said.
(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)