March 09–President Trump has agreed to meet with North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un by May in the hopes of negotiating an end to the rogue nation’s nuclear weapons program, South Korean and U.S. officials announced last night.

The South Korean national security director, Chung Eui-yong, told reporters outside the White House of the planned summit, after briefing Trump and other top U.S. officials about a rare meeting with Kim in the North Korean capital on Monday. The visit would make Trump the first American president to meet with a North Korean leader.

Chung said he told Trump that Kim says he’s committed to “denuclearization” and has pledged that North Korea will refrain from any further nuclear or missile tests — providing a rare diplomatic opening after a year of escalating tensions over the North’s tests. The rival Koreas have already agreed to hold a leadership summit in late April.

But Bruce Bennett, a senior defense analyst at the RAND Corp., said “talk is cheap” and stressed the importance of Trump demanding results.

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“The real question is whether North Korea is really prepared to do something,” Bennett told the Herald. “This is the time for the U.S. to say, ‘Sure, we’re happy to meet, but at the same time, demonstrate to us you are actually serious — say return five weapons.’ ”

Bay State U.S. Rep. Bill Keating, the ranking member of the Terrorism, Nonproliferation and Trade Subcommittee, which has jurisdiction over nuclear issues in the Korean Peninsula, also responded to news of the agreement.

“Discussions invite progress,” Keating wrote in a statement. “The U.S. and our allies must be clear in our goal of denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula, which includes verification. It is clear sanctions are having positive effects and thus imperative these sanctions continue until concrete results are in place.”

The meeting would be unprecedented during seven decades of animosity between the U.S. and North Korea. The countries do not even have formal diplomatic relations. They remain in a state of war because the 1950-53 Korean War ended with an armistice and not a peace treaty.

Chung said Kim “expressed his eagerness to meet President Trump as soon as possible” and Trump “appreciated the briefing and said he would meet Kim by May to achieve permanent denuclearization.”

Chung did not say where Trump would meet with Kim. The White House said Trump’s meeting with Kim would take place “at a place and time to be determined.”

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(c)2018 the Boston Herald

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