Talks, not 'negotiations' with North Korea: Rex Tillerson


South Korea's national security adviser announced Thursday night at the White House that Trump had agreed to meet with Kim Jong Un by May in an effort to see North Korea abandon its nuclear ambitions.

Trump said he was prepared to meet Kim in what would be the first face-to-face encounter between leaders from the two countries and could mark a breakthrough in a standoff over the North's nuclear weapons.

All announcements of the latest developments come from South Korea.

In 2000, Marshal Jo Myong Rok, a powerful figure in the North Korean armed forces, became the first and most senior North Korean official to visit the White House and meet a United States president, then Bill Clinton. South Korean officials expect that Trump and Kim will meet by May; that's a long time from now, and you better believe there will be plenty of Trump tweets in between.

Kim would also boost his own standing by becoming the first of the three hereditary leaders of North Korea to sit down with an American president.

Trump added that sanctions will remain in place until there's a deal. Tillerson said that Trump has been open to mere talks and a meeting with Kim "for some time", and had decided on Thursday that "the time was right".

"This is an nearly miraculous event; my administration will prepare toward the May meeting with utmost diligence", he said in remarks read out in Seoul by a Blue House spokesman.

The North Korean leader has in many ways been dictating the moves, not America or China.

As The Post reported Thursday, the White House emphasized that North Korea's invitation included a "commitment to denuclearization" and that the United States would demand confirmation that Pyongyang was meeting its obligations in any prospective deal.

Many assumed the next step would be preparatory talks in which experts from each side would test the other's intentions and then enter into lengthy formal negotiations. Even proponents of a diplomatic approach towards North Korea worry the administration could be rushing into a summit with little time to prepare. The communist leader has previously said the US and South Korea must end their joint military exercises before he would agree to talks.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel was among the world leaders to hail the announcement as a "glimmer of hope", saying North Korea's nuclear drive "has been a source of great concern for all of us".

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"The fundamental definition of denuclearization is quite different between Washington and Pyongyang", Revere said, noting that as recently as January 1, Kim had vigorously reaffirmed the importance of nukes for North Korea's security.

"I think that they are honest", Trump said.

As the Trump administration ramped up its "maximum pressure campaign" on North Korea over the past year, Mr Tillerson was one of the more enthusiastic advocates within the cabinet for trying to talk to the North Koreans, while other officials warned the president of the risks of rewarding Mr Kim too soon.

President Trump is crediting his hardline stance of maximizing pressure on the North.

Moon's government, elected on a platform of engagement with North Korea, has scored the political victory of delivering on that promise.

Trump unswayed by warnings on tariffs: The president went ahead Thursday and ordered steep new tariffs on steel and aluminum imported to the USA, despite grim warnings from business leaders and top GOP officials.

FILE - In this September 19, 2017, file photo, U.S. President Donald Trump addresses the 72nd session of the United Nations General Assembly, at U.N. headquarters.

China does not want to see tougher and more extensive sanctions that could cause North Korea to fail, as it would have to deal with the fallout of millions of refugees and the consequent spectre of USA troops on its border.

After more than a year of belligerent rhetoric, missile tests and nuclear explosions, North Korea and the U.S. have agreed to talk to each other directly.

In January 2014, retired USA basketball player Dennis Rodman and a group of former National Basketball Association players arrived in the DPRK for a game celebrating Kim Jong Un's birthday.