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Trump calls for talks with North Korea on nuclear weapons

By Sheetal Sukhija, Asia Pacific News
11 Jan 2018, 11:49 GMT+10

WASHINGTON, U.S. - After shunning him as the little rocket man, now the U.S. President Donald Trump has expressed interest in holding talks with the North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.

Trump’s calls for direct talks with Kim Jong Un comes a day after South Korea and its nuclear neighbour North Korea ended the over two-year long freeze and engaged in talks.

On Wednesday, Trump told South Korea’s leader that he was open to direct talks with North Korea over its nuclear program, but at the right time.

Detailing Trump’s phone call with South Korean President Moon Jae In, the White House said in a statement, “President Trump expressed his openness to holding talks between the United States and North Korea at the appropriate time, under the right circumstances.”

Simultaneously, U.S. officials have stressed “the importance of continuing the maximum pressure campaign against North Korea.”

The conversation between North Korea and the South and the indications by Trump emerged as the latest sign that Trump is slowly, and cautiously, warming up to talks with Pyongyang in order to resolve the nuclear crisis between the two countries. 

On Saturday, Trump told reporters he would be open to speaking with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, albeit not without preconditions. 

Addressing reporters at Camp David, Trump answered questions on whether he would talk to Kim Jong Un saying, “Sure. I always believe in talking. If something can happen and something can come out of those talks, that would be a great thing for all of humanity.”

Trump, however, added that Kim Jong Un “knows I'm not messing around” and reiterated that the U.S. stance against North Korea’s nuclear ambitions is “very firm.”

Previously, Trump has dismissed the notion that the nuclear standoff could be resolved through direct talks, even as top Cabinet officials stressed the need for diplomacy. 

In October last year, when his top diplomat, Rex Tillerson suggested the U.S. has a direct line to the North, Trump engaged in a very public conflict with him, saying on Twitter, “I told Rex Tillerson, our wonderful Secretary of State, that he is wasting his time trying to negotiate with Little Rocket Man. Save your energy Rex, we'll do what has to be done!”

Trump’s comments come immediately after officials from the two Koreas recently met for their highest-level talks in two years.

During the talks, North Korea agreed to send a delegation to the Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea in the month of February.

Further, both the countries are set to hold negotiations to reduce tensions along the border.

In an official statement, the South Korean government said that Trump promised there would be no military action while the talks are ongoing.

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