Trump to meet with Kim Jong Un

President Trump is planning to meet the leader of North Korea, Kim Jong Un, apparently in a matter of just weeks. It would be the first time a sitting U.S. president has met a leader of North Korea. The two countries have been locked in a formal state of war since the onset of the Korean War in the 1950s.

"Great progress being made but sanctions will remain until an agreement is reached. Meeting being planned!" Trump said on Twitter.

The surprise announcement was made by South Korean National Security Advisor Chung Eui-Yong in a short statement outside the White House. The White House later said no firm timetable was set.

Chung said that in recent talks with South Korea, Kim Jong Un "expressed eagerness to meet President Trump as soon as possible."

A senior administration official said the sentiments from Kim were conveyed verbally to Trump during a briefing in the Oval Office at the White House on Thursday, denying the existence of a physical letter from the South Korean envoy to the president, which was reported earlier.

The White House confirmed that Trump would accept Kim's invitation to meet, but a senior administration official told reporters on a call after the announcement that "at this point, we're not even talking about negotiations."

"What we're talking about is an invitation by the leader of North Korea to meet face to face with the president of the United States," the official said. "The president has accepted that invitation."

In the short term, a meeting could defuse the spiraling tensions between the US and North Korea that have raised fears the two nations are on an accelerating slide to a clash that could kill millions on the Korean peninsula.

"I think this is a positive step. I think the world is breathing a sigh of relief," former CIA chief and Defense Secretary Leon Panetta told CNN, warning intricate diplomatic planning and attention to detail would be required.

Talks would represent a huge risk for Trump, who would be putting the prestige of the United States and his own credibility on the line. So far, there are few signs that he has secured significant returns to justify such a step.

For decades, the Kim dynasty has used diplomatic coercion and brinkmanship twinned with offers of talks and demands for concessions to cheat their way to a nuclear arsenal and preserve a tyrannical regime in defiance of the US.

Top officials in the Pentagon, and even in his own White House were unaware something was afoot until Trump appeared before reporters. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, who earlier cautioned that talks with Pyongyang were a distant prospect, was thousands of miles away in Africa.

Trump's own inexperience in high stakes diplomatic negotiations increases the size of his gamble. Then again, there is no evidence that Kim has ever met another head of state.

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