Kim Jong Un Extends Invitation To President Trump, South Korean Officials Say
Updated at 7:43 p.m. ET
South Korean officials say that Kim Jong Un has invited President Trump to face-to-face talks and that Trump has agreed to meet with the North Korean leader by May.
The announcement came Thursday evening at the White House, where South Korea's national security adviser, Chung Eui-yong, briefed the president and other U.S. leaders on Chung's recent meeting with Kim in Pyongyang.
The international community has steadily increased pressure on Pyongyang in hopes of curbing its outlaw nuclear program.
"I explained to President Trump that his leadership and his maximum pressure policy, together with international solidarity, brought us to this juncture," Chung said. "I expressed President Moon Jae-in's personal gratitude for President Trump's leadership."
Chung said that during his meeting with Kim the North Korean leader "expressed his eagerness to meet with Trump as soon as possible." Kim also agreed to refrain from conducting further nuclear or missile tests during this period, Chung said.
Trump was guarded earlier this week about whether he would be willing to meet with Kim, but Chung reported no such reservations from the president.
"President Trump appreciated the briefing and said he would meet Kim Jong Un by May to achieve permanent denuclearization," Chung said.
South Korea and other countries are approaching this diplomatic overture with caution. "The Republic of Korea, the United States, and our partners stand together in insisting that we not repeat the mistakes of the past," Chung said. "The pressure will continue until North Korea matches its words with concrete action."
While Chung said South Korea is "optimistic" about continued talks, it will proceed with joint military exercises with the United States. Those exercises had been postponed while South Korea hosted the Winter Olympics.
Chung said Kim "understands that the routine joint military exercises between [South Korea and the U.S.] must continue."