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North Korea’s Kim Jong-un is ’taking stock’ of meeting with US President Donald Trump

Monday - 19/03/2018 09:32
FOLLOWING US President Donald Trump’s surprise decision to meet with North Korea, Kim Jong-un tells South Korean Foreign Minister he’s ‘taking stock.’
U.S. President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un. Picture: APSource:AP
U.S. President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un. Picture: APSource:AP

NORTH Korean leader Kim Jong-un is “taking stock” of US President Donald Trump’s surprise decision to accept his invitation for talks on denuclearising the Korean peninsula, South Korea’s foreign minister said in an interview that aired Sunday.

There has been no public North Korean response to Trump in the nearly two weeks since he stunned the world by agreeing to meet with Kim, a diplomatic gambit with huge stakes for both countries.

Kim Jong-un “taking stock” of Donald Trump’s desire to meet. Picture: AFP
Kim Jong-un “taking stock” of Donald Trump’s desire to meet. Picture: AFPSource:AFP

“We believe the North Korean leader is now taking stock,” South Korean Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-what said on CBS’s “Face the Nation.”

“We give them the benefit of the doubt, and the time that he would need to come out with some public messaging.”

North Korean officials on Saturday concluded three days of talks with Swedish officials in Stockholm, and further meetings were expected in Finland. Sweden provides consular services for the United States in North Korea.

South Korea Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-what says that her advisers were “surprised” by Trump’s decision. Picture: AFP
South Korea Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-what says that her advisers were “surprised” by Trump’s decision. Picture: AFPSource:AFP

But the officials gave no indication where the summit invitation stands. Kang said a channel of communication has been established, adding, “I’m sure there are back and forth messages.” “But, I think the North Korean leader would also need some time, given the readiness with which President Trump has accepted the invitation to talks.”

The invitation was relayed to Trump at an impromptu White House meeting March 6 by South Korean national security adviser Chung Eui-yong, who previously had met with Kim.

Chung told Trump that Kim had agreed to discuss denuclearisation, and would suspend all missile and nuclear tests until the talks were held.

South Korean head of National Security Chung Eui-yong. Picture: AP
South Korean head of National Security Chung Eui-yong. Picture: APSource:AP

 

 
Donald Trump must wait to meet Kim Jong-un. Picture: AP
Donald Trump must wait to meet Kim Jong-un. Picture: APSource:AP

Trump accepted on the spot, catching his own top advisers off guard. “I think we were all quite surprised by the readiness of that decision,” Kang said.

She said Kim had “given his word” on his commitment to denuclearisation, a key condition for the unprecedented leader-to-leader talks.

“But the significance of his word is quite, quite weighty in the sense that this is the first time that the words came directly from the North Korean supreme leader himself, and that has never been done before.”

Kang Kyung-what: “It’s a matter of discussing, and pressing for action.” Picture: AP
Kang Kyung-what: “It’s a matter of discussing, and pressing for action.” Picture: APSource:AFP

She said nothing has been offered to the North Koreans to engage in negotiations, and South Korea made it clear “there will be no reward for dialogue.”

Asked if South Korea trusted Kim, Kang said: “It’s not a matter of trusting. It’s a matter of discussing, and pressing for action. And once you see those actions, then you move forward further.”

Originally published as Kim ‘considers’ Trump meeting

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