North Korea’s leader, Kim Jong-un, has told South Korean envoys that he is willing to negotiate with the United States on abandoning his country’s nuclear weapons, officials from the South said on Tuesday. Mr. Kim also said he would suspend all nuclear and missile tests while such talks were underway.
President Trump reacted with guarded optimism to the news, which potentially represented a major defusing of one of the world’s tensest confrontations.
During the envoys’ two-day visit to Pyongyang, the North’s capital, which ended on Tuesday, the two Koreas also agreed to hold a summit meeting between Mr. Kim and President Moon Jae-in of South Korea on the countries’ border in late April, Mr. Moon’s office said in a statement.
“The North Korean side clearly stated its willingness to denuclearize,” the statement said. “It made it clear that it would have no reason to keep nuclear weapons if the military threat to the North was eliminated and its security guaranteed.”
If the statement is corroborated by North Korea, it would be the first time Mr. Kim has indicated that his government is willing to discuss giving up nuclear weapons in return for security guarantees from the United States. Until now, North Korea has said its nuclear weapons were not for bargaining away.
“The North expressed its willingness to hold a heartfelt dialogue with the United States on the issues of denuclearization and normalizing relations with the United States,” the statement said. “It made it clear that while dialogue is continuing, it will not attempt any strategic provocations, such as nuclear and ballistic missile tests.”
On Twitter, Mr. Trump, who has veered from bellicose threats against Mr. Kim to offers to sit down with him, welcomed what he called “possible progress” with the North. “For the first time in many years, a serious effort is being made by all parties concerned,” Mr. Trump said. “The World is watching and waiting! May be false hope, but the U.S. is ready to go hard in either direction!”