Both the United States and North Korea have been using South Korea as a means of communication since relations between the nations of the Korean Peninsula sparked throughout the winter Olympics in Pyeongchang. On Thursday, both the White House and South Korea released statements saying that President Trump has accepted Kim Jong Un’s invitation to meet through South Korean delegates, to officially discuss the potential for denuclearization.
In a press conference on Thursday, the White House press secretary, Sarah Huckabee Sanders, said: “President Trump greatly appreciates the nice words of the South Korean delegation and President Moon. He will accept the invitation to meet with Kim Jong Un at a place and time to be determined. We look forward to the denuclearization of North Korea. In the meantime, all sanctions and maximum pressure must remain.” The meeting is partly due to the negotiations and communication of South Korea’s national security adviser, Chung Eui-yong. Chung has said South Korea is “optimistic” about the meeting.
Trump, who has dabbled between openness to delegation and more negative rhetoric towards Kim, i.e. his reference to him as “rocket man,” explained that his decision is based purely on his knowledge of Kim’s willingness to denuclearize. At 8 p.m. on Thursday, Trump tweeted: “Kim Jong Un talked about denuclearization with the South Korean Representatives, not just a freeze. Also, no missile testing by North Korea during this period of time. Great progress being made but sanctions will remain until an agreement is reached. Meeting being planned!” The meeting will be taking place in May, according to White House officials, but details of time and place are yet to be determined.