March 2018
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Trump hails 'progress' after agreeing to meet Kim Jong Un; sanctions remain
(Washington, D.C, Mar 09, 2018):US President Donald Trump hailed “great progress” in talks with North Korea after agreeing to meet Kim Jong Un in what would be an unprecedented summit.

“Kim Jong Un talked about denuclearisation with the South Korean Representatives, not just a freeze,” Trump said on Twitter late Thursday in Washington. “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!”

White House spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders said earlier the meeting would occur at “a place and time to be determined.” The announcement was first made by South Korean National Security Council chief Chung Eui-yong, who told reporters in Washington that Kim “expressed his eagerness to meet President Trump as soon as possible” and that Trump “said he would meet Kim Jong Un by May to achieve permanent denuclearisation.”

The news stoked gains in Asian equity markets Friday, and sent the yen -- a haven during times of stress -- tumbling to its biggest drop in more than two weeks against the dollar. South Korea’s Kospi Index of shares was up 1.6 percent as of 10:30 am in Seoul, while the broader MSCI Asia Pacific Index advanced 0.7 percent. The yen slid 0.6 percent to 106.90.

Kim is committed to getting rid of his nuclear weapons and would refrain from nuclear or missile tests, Chung said. The North Korean leader also understands that routine US-South Korea joint military exercises must continue, Chung said, adding that the pressure campaign will continue “until North Korea matches its words with concrete actions.”

Trump’s decision to meet soon with Kim is supported by his Vice President Mike Pence, who set the US tone as the top official at the Winter Olympic games in South Korea and sat in on the South Korean envoy’s meeting with Trump, according to an official familiar with the discussions. The official said the US made no concessions in order to pave the way for a meeting with Kim and is not backing off on applying sanctions or maximum pressure.

A Trump administration official, who briefed reporters on condition of anonymity, pointed out that prior administrations had entered into dialogues with the regime at lower levels. Trump made his reputation as a deal-maker and only Kim is uniquely capable of making negotiating decisions under North Korea’s authoritarian system, the official said.

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe welcomed Trump’s planned meeting with Kim, and said he planned to visit the US in April. H R McMaster, the US National Security Adviser, will brief the United Nations Security Council on the latest developments on March 12, according to a European diplomat who asked not to be identified since the announcement isn’t public.

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