Korean diplomat reaffirms commitment to 'phased, synchronized' denuclearization

US President Donald Trump said Monday he plans to meet with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un next month or in early June to "hopefully" reach a deal on denuclearizing the regime.

Reports on Sunday indicated that North Korean officials had told their American counterparts that Kim is ready to discuss denuclearization.

In the past, North Korea pledged to freeze its nuclear program in exchange for food aid and easing economic sanctions.

He said the two sides will discuss the denuclearization of North Korea and expressed hope for an improvement in ties.

The President said planning is continuing for the unprecedented meeting, which he said would address North Korea's nuclear weapons.

Kim's remarks on Monday break that public silence, although he did not specifically refer to a summit with Trump. During previous negotiations under different USA administrations, the North has agreed to freeze its nuclear weapons program in exchange for the lifting of worldwide economic sanctions, only to violate the agreement by testing more weapons.

Mike Pompeo, CIA director who is nominated to assume the post of secretary of state, and his team had been working with their North Korean colleagues through intelligence channels to prepare the meeting, CNN reported. "Hopefully, it will be a relationship that's much different than it's been for many, many years", Trump said.

He added that previous presidents should have held such talks. He would also likely insist that the United States end its commitment to "extended deterrence" in South Korea and Japan - its threat of nuclear retaliation if its allies in Asia come under attack from North Korea.

Mr Trump said on Monday their meeting might be in late May or in June.

If the Kim-Trump summit does take place, many remain skeptical about the whether a meeting between the two notoriously unpredictable leaders can succeed. Over the weekend, even American officials said they had received equivalent assurances right from mature North Korean counter parts. The Mongolian capital Ulaanbaatar has also been raised as a possible location, the sources said.


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