North Korea leader Kim Jong-un told South Korea President Moon Jae-in that he would abandon his nuclear weapons if the United States will formally end the Korean War and promise not to invade his country, the South Korean government announced Sunday.
How is this perceived by U.S. officials?
The announcement was declared a confidence-building gesture ahead of a proposed summit meeting in May with President Donald Trump, the New York Times reported. Kim also claimed he would invite experts and journalists from South Korea and the United States to watch the shutdown his country’s only known underground nuclear test site.
Members of the Trump administration were cautious about the possibility of reaching a deal, the report stated. A plan to dismantle North Korea’s nuclear program is expected to span a period of about two years.
John Bolton, Trump’s new national security adviser, said that would be accompanied by a “full, complete, total disclosure of everything related to their nuclear program with a full international verification,” according to the report.
Still, an apparent concession was categorized by U.S. officials as a promising sign in the quest to end a standoff on the Koren Peninsula that has remained in place since the end of the Korean War 65 years ago.
But North Korea has made similar pledges of "denuclearization," the report noted. His outward cooperation could also be a strategy to lift sanctions on his country.
A South Korean government spokesman, Yoon Young-chan, gave a detailed account of the two Korean leaders.
“I know the Americans are inherently disposed against us, but when they talk with us, they will see that I am not the kind of person who would shoot nuclear weapons to the south, over the Pacific or at the United States,” Kim reportedly told Moon.
Amid nuclear tensions last year, Kim threatened to do both of those things.
What is Trump seeking?
During an ABC news broadcast on Sunday, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said the Trump administration wants to see “complete, verifiable, irreversible denuclearization” with North Korea. He added that Kim was prepared to “lay out a map that would help us achieve” denuclearization.
“We had an extensive conversation on the hardest issues that face our two countries,” Pompeo said. “I had a clear mission statement from President Trump. When I left, Kim understood the mission exactly as I described it today.”
Bolton, however, has mentioned past promises by North Korea that have not come to fruition. That happened in the 1990s and in 2008, according to the report.