US President Donald Trump announced he will hold talks with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un in Singapore on June 12.
Trump made the announcement on social media on Thursday just hours after welcoming three Americans freed from prison in North Korea as they arrived back in the United States.
The Kim-Trump meeting will be the first between leaders of the United States and North Korea.
“We will both try to make it a very special moment for World Peace,” Trump wrote in his Twitter post.
The highly anticipated meeting between Kim Jong Un and myself will take place in Singapore on June 12th. We will both try to make it a very special moment for World Peace!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 10, 2018
Trump is expected to push North Korea to give up its nuclear weapons at the meeting in exchange for security guarantees and the removal of stifling economic sanctions.
The Singapore announcement follows US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s second visit to Pyongyang to finalise plans for the summit.
Trump welcomes freed US prisoners from North Korea
Earlier, Trump suggested the demilitarised zone at Panmunjom between North and South Korea would be a possible venue for the breakthrough meeting.
Singapore emerged as the likely host of the summit after Trump yielded to the concerns of his aides and backed off his desire to hold the meeting at the inter-Korean demilitarised zone.
Plans for a summit between Trump and Kim follow months of angry exchanges between the two over Pyongyang’s testing of nuclear weapons and long-range missiles, including some theoretically capable of reaching the US mainland.
But a surprising about-turn by Kim in recent months raised hopes of a turning point.
Trump thanked North Korean leader for releasing the Americans and said he believes Kim wants to reach an agreement on denuclearisation at their upcoming summit. “I really think he wants to do something,” the president said.
US Vice President Mike Pence said on Thursday on NBC News, “In this moment the regime in North Korea has been dealing, as far as we can see, in good faith.”
Seoul and Pyongyang have been technically at war since the 1950s because the conflict ended in a truce, not a peace treaty.
But South Korean President Moon Jae-in and Kim agreed at a landmark summit last week to work towards a permanent treaty to replace the 65-year-old armistice.
Preparations for the Trump-Kim meeting gathered further momentum since the Korean summit.
SOURCE: Al Jazeera and news agencies