Kim makes first official mention of talks with US

SEOUL: North Korea’s leader Kim Jong-Un discussed future talks with the US at a party meeting, state media reported on Tuesday, in his first official mention of dialogue with Washington ahead of a planned summit with President Donald Trump.
Trump agreed last month to a landmark summit with the nuclear-armed North — which would be the first between a sitting US president and a North Korean leader — but no specific dates or venue have been set, with questions mounting over Pyongyang’s participation.
At the meeting of party officials on Monday, Kim discussed the “development of the north-south relations at present and the prospect of the DPRK-US dialogue”, the official KCNA news agency said, referring to the North by its official acronym.
He delivered a report “on the development of the recent situation on the Korean peninsula”, including the separate summit with South Korea to be held later this month, it said.
In a growing rapprochement on the Korean peninsula, Kim is scheduled to meet the South’s President Moon Jae-In for a rare inter-Korean summit on April 27.
Trump has agreed to meet Kim for a historic US-North Korean summit to discuss denuclearisation as soon as next month.
But the North had remained publicly silent since its leader’s invitation to talks was delivered to Trump by South Korean officials last month.
As officials in Washington scrambled to prepare for the prospective meeting, the weeks-long silence had reportedly made the White House nervous that Seoul had overstated the North’s willingness to negotiate over its own nuclear arsenal.
Kim’s remarks on Monday break that public silence, although he did not specifically refer to a “summit” with Trump.
Following multiple media reports of back-channel talks between the Cold War rivals, Trump said on Monday he planned to meet Kim in “May or early June”.
“I think there will be great respect paid by both parties and hopefully there will be a deal on denuking,” he said.
“Hopefully it will be a relationship that will be much different than it has been for many, many years.” — AFP