“They do have my blessing to discuss the end of the war”, said Trump.
JILL COLVIN | ZEKE MILLER
UNITED STATES.- President Donald Trump said Tuesday that the U.S. and North Korea are holding direct talks at “extremely high levels” in preparation for a potential summit with dictator Kim Jong Un. At MaAR Lago with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, Trump also confirmed that North and South Korea are negotiating an end to hostilities before next week’s meeting between Kim snd South Korean President Moon Jaein. The meeting will be the third interKorean summit since the Koreas’ 1945 division.“They do have my blessing to discuss the end of the war”, said Trump, who welcomed Abe to his Florida resort on Tuesday.
Trump is looking to hold his own summit with Kim in the next two months and said five locations are under consideration. The proposed summit follows months of increasingly heated rhetoric over the North’s nuclear weapons program. “We have had direct talks at very high levels — extremely high levels — with North Korea,” Trump said. “We’ll either have a very good meeting or we won’t have a good meeting,” he added.“And maybe we won’t even have a meeting at all depending on what’s going in. But I think that there’s a great chance to solve a world problem.”
The president did not answer shouted questions about whether he has spoken with Kim. Kim ‘s offer for a summit was initially conveyed to Trump by South Korea last month, and the president accepted. U.S. officials have indicated over the past two weeks that North Korea’s government has communicated directly with Washing- ton that it is ready to discuss its nuclear weapons program. The officials also said discussions between the two sides are being held in preparation for a summit. Abe, who has voiced fears that short and medium range missiles that pose a threat to Japan might not be part of the U.S. negotiations, praised Trump on Tuesday for his bravery in agreeing to meet with the North Korean dictator. “I’d like to commend Donald’s courage in his decision to have the upcoming summit meeting with the North Korean leader,” Abe said.
Trump took credit forthe inter-Korean talks, saying, “Without us and without me, in particular, I guess you would have to say, they wouldn’t be discussing anything.”North Korea has long sought a peace treaty with the U.S. to formally end the 1950-53 Korean War. It is unusual for the North to seek to broach the issue directly with South Korea rather than with Washington itself. The armistice that ended the fighting was signed by the United Nations Command — the U.S.-led forces in the conflict — Nor- th Korea and China. South Korea was a member of the U.N. Command but was not a direct signatory. The U.S. has traditionally sought to resolve the dispute over North Korea’s nu- clear weapons program before addressing the North’s demands for a peace treaty, which the isolated, authoritarian nation views as a means to ensuring its security. The U.S. retains nearly 30,000 troops in South Korea to deter North Korean ag- gression. The leaders of the two Koreas are due to meet April 27 on the southern side of the tense, demilitarized zone that separates them.