During a joint press conference with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on Wednesday evening in Florida, President Trump said he might meet with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un as early as June, and he will do "everything possible" to ensure the summit is a "worldwide success."
Trump said the United States will exert maximum pressure on North Korea to give up its nuclear program, and he wants to see the two Koreas live together in "safety, prosperity, and peace." Once the meeting is underway, if it goes poorly and is not "fruitful," Trump said, he plans to "respectfully leave." It's urgent that we "end nuclear weapons, ideally in all parts of the world," Trump said, and the U.S. is "fighting very diligently" to get three Americans imprisoned in North Korea their freedom.
Earlier in the day, Trump spoke about CIA Director Mike Pompeo's secret trip to meet with Kim over Easter weekend, and said they got along "really well, really great." Catherine Garcia
Over Easter weekend, CIA Director Mike Pompeo made a covert visit to North Korea on behalf of President Trump and met with Kim Jong Un, two people with direct knowledge of the trip told The Washington Post.
Pompeo's top-secret visit with the North Korean leader was an effort to lay the groundwork for a summit between Trump and Kim regarding North Korea's nuclear weapons program, the Post reports. The meeting was held soon after Trump nominated Pompeo to be secretary of state, replacing Rex Tillerson, and about a week later, U.S. officials said the government had directly confirmed that Kim was willing to discuss possible denuclearization.
Trump hinted on Tuesday that something major had happened, telling reporters the U.S. and North Korea held direct talks "at extremely high levels." He also said he'd like to meet with Kim by early June, and there are five locations — none in the United States — under consideration to host the summit. Kim and South Korean President Moon Jae-in are set to meet next week, and Trump said "they do have my blessing to discuss the end of the war." North and South Korea are still technically at war since the 1950-53 Korean War ended with an armistice. Catherine Garcia
North Korean officials have directly notified the United States that leader Kim Jong Un is prepared to discuss his country's nuclear weapons program when he meets with President Trump, The Associated Press reports.
Two members of the Trump administration confirmed to AP on Sunday that Pyongyang directly communicated with the U.S., but would not say when or how this contact occurred. Last month, South Korean leaders visiting Washington passed along an invitation from Kim to Trump to hold a summit, and Trump immediately accepted the offer. They have not yet set a date for their meeting. Catherine Garcia
Vice President Mike Pence told The Washington Post on Sunday that the U.S. is willing to sit down and talk with North Korea while still imposing sanctions and urging Pyongyang to give up its nuclear weapons programs.
Previously, the Trump administration had said it would not enter talks with North Korea until concrete steps were being made toward denuclearization. Pence said he had two conversations with South Korean President Moon Jae-in while in Pyeongchang for the Winter Olympics, and they agreed to a plan that involves North Korea holding talks with South Korea regarding denuclearization, and then the United States. This is "maximum pressure and engagement at the same time," Pence said.
Pence said Moon assured him that North Korea will be made fully aware the country will not receive any economic or diplomatic benefits for merely attending the talks. He also said he doesn't know yet what steps North Korea will need to take to get relief from sanctions. "That's why you have to have talks," Pence told the Post. Catherine Garcia
In a message to "all Koreans at home and abroad," North Korea called for unification without the assistance of other countries, North Korean state media said.
The announcement was made after a meeting of the North Korean government and political parties, held in response to North Korean leader Kim Jong Un's New Year's address calling for stronger reunification efforts. Pyongyang will "smash" all challenges against reunification, the statement said, and called joint military drills with "outside forces," like the kind conducted by South Korea and the United States, harmful and a "fundamental obstacle" to peace.
North Korea views 2018 as an important year, as it's the 70th anniversary of the founding of the country and the Winter Olympics are being held in South Korea. Catherine Garcia
North Korea has accepted South Korea's invitation to discuss ways to cooperate on the upcoming Winter Olympics, and agreed to meet at the border village of Panmunjom on Tuesday, South Korea's Unification Ministry announced Friday.
This will be the first formal dialogue between Pyongyang and Seoul in more than two years, and they will also discuss how to improve ties between the countries. On Thursday, the United States and South Korea agreed to postpone their joint military exercises until after the Pyeongchang Olympics in February; North Korea considers the annual military exercises preparation for an invasion.
While some anaylsts see this as the first step in bettering relations, others believe this could be Pyongyang's way of causing friction between South Korea and the United States. Catherine Garcia
On behalf of Kim Jong Un, the chairman of North Korea's Committee for the Peaceful Reunification announced in a radio address Wednesday that Pyongyang will reopen a cross-border communication channel with South Korea.
Ri Son Gwon said North Korea plans on dealing with South Korea in a "sincere and careful" manner by "upholding the will" of Kim, The Associated Press reports. The South Korean Unification Ministry said North Korea is set to reopen the communication channel at the border village of Panmunjom late Wednesday.
On Monday, Kim hinted that he was interested in sending a delegation to next month's Olympic Games in Pyeongchang, and on Tuesday South Korea suggested the countries participate in talks regarding ways to cooperate on the games. Catherine Garcia
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un said in a televised New Year's Day address that he is "open to dialogue" with South Korea, Reuters reports. Kim additionally boasted that he has a nuclear button on his desk and could attack the U.S., but said he would only use the weapons if threatened.
The mixed message came after a year of escalating tensions over Pyongyang's nuclear and missile tests. Kim called his country "a peace-loving and responsible nuclear power," and said he would consider sending a delegation to the Winter Olympics in South Korea in February.
A spokesman for South Korea's presidential Blue House said Seoul has "always stated our willingness to talk with North Korea any time and anywhere." Jeva Lange