North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un is ready to discuss the denuclearization of the Korean peninsula, according to multiple South Korean sources.
Kim reportedly made the claim during a meeting with members of South Korean President Moon Jae-in’s special envoy on a visit to Pyongyang to discuss bilateral relations and other concerns.
An unnamed official told Yonhap News Agency that Kim opened up the possibility of entering talks with the United States, adding that denuclearization was his father Kim Jong-il’s “dying wish.”
“Chairman Kim said that even denuclearization could be among the agenda items for talks between North Korea and the U.S.,” he said. “What drew our attention, in particular, is that he made clear that achieving denuclearization is his father’s dying wish and that it has not been changed at all.”
“Kim also didn’t specify anything special from South Korea or other countries in return for the North coming to dialogue but expressed an intent to be treated seriously as a counterpart for talks,” he added.
The head of the South Korean delegation, Chung Eui-yong, later corroborated the report, saying that North Korea would seek assurances that the U.S. would not threaten the regime.
“North Korea made clear its willingness to denuclearize the Korean peninsula and the fact there is no reason for it to have a nuclear program if military threats against the North are resolved and its regime is secure,” he said.
The announcement drew excitement from President Donald Trump, who said that the world was now “watching and waiting” for progress.
“Possible progress being made in talks with North Korea,” Trump wrote on Twitter. “For the first time in many years, a serious effort is being made by all parties concerned. The World is watching and waiting! May be false hope, but the U.S. is ready to go hard in either direction!”:
Possible progress being made in talks with North Korea. For the first time in many years, a serious effort is being made by all parties concerned. The World is watching and waiting! May be false hope, but the U.S. is ready to go hard in either direction!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) March 6, 2018
The recent talks follow both North and South Korea’s engaging in joint efforts during the Winter Olympics held in Pyeongchang, where the two sides marched under a unified flag and also fielded a joint ice hockey team.
However, such efforts spearheaded by President Moon Jae-in were met with widespread disapproval by citizens in the South, many of whom perceived it as pandering to an evil communist dictatorship.
The possibility of bilateral negotiations represents a major step forward for the Trump administration, whose first year has been dominated by the threats of a devastating war as North Korea aggressively expands its nuclear capabilities.