NKorea ready for talks with US

WASHINGTON – North Korea has told the United States for the first time that it is prepared to discuss the denuclearisation of the Korean Peninsula when North Korean leader Kim Jong Un meets President Donald Trump, a US official said on Sunday.

US and North Korean officials have held secret contacts recently in which Pyongyang directly confirmed its willingness to hold the unprecedented summit, the official told Reuters, speaking on condition of anonymity.

The communications, still at a preliminary stage, have involved State Department officials talking to North Korea apparently through its United Nations mission, and intelligence officers from both sides using a separate backchannel, the official said.

Until now, Washington had relied mostly on ally South Korea’s assurance of Mr Kim’s intentions.

South Korean envoys visited Washington last month to convey Mr Kim’s invitation to meet.

Mr Trump, who has exchanged bellicose threats with Mr Kim in the past year, surprised the world by quickly agreeing to meet Mr Kim to discuss the crisis over Pyongyang’s development of nuclear weapons capable of hitting the United States.

But Pyongyang has not broken its public silence on the summit, which US officials say is being planned for May. There was no immediate word on the possible venue for the talks, which would be the first ever between a sitting US president and North Korean leader.

The US official declined to say exactly when the US-North Korea communications had taken place but said the two sides had held multiple direct contacts.

“The US has confirmed that Kim Jong Un is willing to discuss the denuclearisation of the Korean Peninsula,” said a second U.S. official.