President Donald Trump is open to the US holding talks with North Korea “under the right circumstances,” the White House said Wednesday after South Korean President Moon Jae-In signalled a willingness to sit down with Kim Jong-Un.
Signs of a potential cooling following months of red-hot tensions on the Korean Peninsula came the day after North Korea reached a landmark agreement to send athletes to the Winter Olympics that will be hosted by the South, a move the international community broadly welcomed.
In a phone call with Moon, Trump expressed his openness to talks with Pyongyang “at the appropriate time, under the right circumstances,” the White House said.
The two leaders also “underscored the importance of continuing the maximum pressure campaign against North Korea,” White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders added in a statement confirming a South Korea account of the call.
The Olympics in Pyeongchang next month have long been overshadowed by extreme geopolitical tensions, with the North repeatedly test firing missiles capable of reaching the US mainland and detonating its most powerful nuclear device to date.
But Pyongyang — which boycotted the 1988 Summer Olympics in Seoul — agreed Tuesday to send athletes and officials to the Games as North and South held their first formal talks for two years at Panmunjom in the Demilitarized Zone.
“It is only the beginning,” Moon told a press conference. “Yesterday was the first step and I think we had a good start.”
“Bringing North Korea to talks for denuclearization is the next step we must take.”
He was willing to hold a summit “at any time,” he said, “but it cannot be a meeting for meetin