Trump says direct talks with North Korea have already started

  • President Donald Trump confirmed on Tuesday that the US had started talking with North Korea.
  • Trump said the talks were happening at “extremely high levels.”
  • Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un are expected to meet later this year.

President Donald Trump said on Tuesday that the US had already started speaking with North Korea ahead of a proposed meeting between Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un later this year.

“We’ve also started talking to North Korea directly,” Trump said,according to Jennifer Jacobs, Bloomberg’s White House reporter. “We have had direct talks at very high levels, extremely high levels with North Korea.”

Trump was speaking to reporters alongside Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe at the president’s Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida.

According to Jacobs, Trump said talks with Kim would take place “probably in early June,” or “a little before that,” or not at all. The president added that five locations were under consideration for a meeting, but he did not specify where.

The Washington Post reporter David Nakamura tweeted that he asked Trump whether any of the locations were in the US and that the president “shook his head and clearly mouthed the word, ‘No.'”

The president said he would bring up in a meeting with Kim the cases of abductees held by North Korea.

A White House official said earlier Tuesday that three Americans being held in North Korea also factored “very much into future interactions” between the US and North Korea.

Trump also said North Korea and South Korea “have my blessing” to discuss officially ending the Korean War, which ended with an armistice in 1953 but is technically ongoing because there is no peace treaty.

Kim and South Korean President Moon Jae-in are set to meet for the first time on April 27. The South Korean newspaper Munhwa Ilbo this week cited an unnamed intelligence source as saying the summit could lead to a peace announcement.

CNN reported earlier this month that “secret, direct talks” were underway between Washington and Pyongyang in preparation for a summit between Trump and Kim, with several administration officials saying a team at the CIA was working through intelligence back-channels.

US and North Korean intelligence officials had spoken several times and met in a third country to work on settling a location for a meeting, according to CNN.

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