North Korean leader Kim Jong Un on Wednesday said a planned summit between himself and U.S. President Donald Trump will be a major step forward for their two countries’ relations.
The North Korean leader’s comments – made during a meeting with U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in Pyongyang – represent Kim’s first direct statement in DPRK state media on his planned talks with President Trump.
“[Kim] exchanged with Mike Pompeo the appraisal and view on the acute situation of the Korean peninsula, which is now a pressing matter of the whole world’s concern, and the stance and opinions of the supreme leaderships of the DPRK and the U.S. on their summit,” the DPRK’s Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) reported in an English-language dispatch.
“He said that the coming DPRK-U.S. summit would be a historic meeting for the excellent first step toward promotion of the positive situation development in the Korean peninsula and building of a good future.”
Kim Jong Un was first said to have invited the President for a meeting back in March, in comments conveyed to Trump by South Korean officials in Washington DC.
The President accepted the invitation, and the past few months have seen frenzied planning and speculation about the date and location of the talks – set to take place in late May or early June.
Trump has said the location and the date of the meeting is now agreed, with an announcement due in the coming days.
Throughout much of this, however, North Korean media has made no mention of the news, save for occasional discussion of “DPRK-U.S. dialogue.”
Kim’s meeting with the Secretary of State was his second this year, with Pompeo having previously visited the North and held talks with the DPRK leader in early April.
On Tuesday it was announced that Pompeo was en route to the North for final preparatory talks on the upcoming summit.
Wednesday’s KCNA statement said the Secretary of State had conveyed a personal message from the President to the North Korean leader.
“At the meeting, an in-depth discussion was made on the practical matters for holding the DPRK-U.S. summit and its procedure and ways,” the KCNA reported.
The Secretary of State now returns to the U.S., bringing with him three American citizens who had been incarcerated in the North for over a year.
Kim Sang-duk (also known as Tony Kim) and Kim Hak-song were detained by North Korean authorities in April and May last year, while the third detainee, Kim Dong-chul, has been imprisoned since October 2015.
Tony Kim and Kim Hak-song had previously been accused of committing “hostile acts” against the DPRK, while Kim Dong-chul had been tried and sentenced to ten years’ hard labor for having committed “unpardonable espionage” on behalf of the U.S. and South Korea.
Kim Jong Un reportedly agreed to their release in his meeting with Pompeo on Wednesday.
“He accepted an official suggestion of the U.S. president for the release of Americans who have been detained in the DPRK for their anti-DPRK hostilities,” the KCNA reported, adding that he had granted them amnesty.
Featured image: KCNA