WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. President Donald Trump said on Monday he planned to meet North Korean leader Kim Jong Un next month or in early June and hoped the discussions would ultimately lead to an end of the North’s nuclear weapons program.
“We’ll be meeting with them sometime in May or early June and I think there’ll be great respect paid by both parties and hopefully we’ll be able to make a deal on the de-nuking of North Korea,” Trump told reporters at the beginning of a Cabinet meeting.
“They’ve said so. We’ve said so,” Trump added. “Hopefully, it’ll be a relationship that’s much different than it’s been for many, many years.”
North Korea has told the United States it is prepared to discuss the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula when Kim meets Trump, a U.S. official told Reuters on Sunday.
The official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said U.S. and North Korean officials have held secret contacts recently in which Pyongyang directly confirmed its willingness to hold the unprecedented summit.
The communications, still at a preliminary stage, have involved State Department officials talking to North Korea, apparently through its United Nations mission, and intelligence officers from both sides using a separate back channel, the official said. Before that, Washington had relied mostly on South Korea’s assurances of Kim’s intentions.
(Reporting by Steve Holland; Writing by David Alexander; Editing by Tim Ahmann and Jonathan Oatis)