North Korea has told the USA for the first time that it is prepared to discuss the denuclearisation of the Korean Peninsula when North Korean leader Kim Jong-un meets President Donald Trump, a US official said on Sunday.
Speaking at a cabinet meeting on Monday, the U.S. President said that White House officials had been "in touch with North Korea", and that he planned to meet the DPRK leader in May or early June. "Hopefully, it will be a relationship that's much different than it's been for many, many years".
But the talk of phased and synchronized measures triggered concerns that it may herald a setback to the implementation of a potential package deal, which is sought by the USA and South Korea, given the secretive regime's track record of reneging on previous agreements that followed a "word-for-word" and "action-for-action" approach.
The two countries have been holding secret meetings to prepare for the summit, trying to work out the logistics of time and meeting place.
The month is already busy, including a potential Trump visit to Jerusalem for the opening of the US Embassy there.
In his report, KCNA said Kim had also made a "profound analysis and appraisal" of the development of inter-Korean ties, and discussed the April 27 summit that will see him visit the border truce village of Panmunjom for a landmark meeting with South Korean President Moon Jae-in.
"This should have been done by other presidents", Trump said. "They couldn't have done it". A lot easier than now.
The news comes just 24 hours after it was revealed the tyrant committed during a meeting with China to denuclearisation if the US and South Korea showed "goodwill". So that will be very exciting, I think, for the world.
"We're close to finishing a deal with South Korea, which was a awful deal", he said.
"If we go to war on the Korean Peninsula, it's all or nothing". Well, that didn't exactly happen.
"[He] stressed the need for them to give fuller play to their responsibility and role as the commanding members of revolution". We lost jobs. And it was a awful deal, and that's being renegotiated. Great progress being made but sanctions will remain until an agreement is reached.
The two sides announced last month that they reached an agreement "in principle" to further open South Korea's auto market to the U.S. in exchange for South Korea's exemption from new USA tariffs on steel imports.
Mr Kim's remarks on Monday did not specifically refer to a summit with Mr Trump. Among them, Pyongyang demanded that the United States declare it will not launch American nuclear weapons from South Korean soil.
Trump agreed last month to a landmark summit with the nuclear-armed North but with no specific dates or venue set, there had been questions over Pyongyang's intention to participate.
Though Kim Jong-un has yet to clarify what steps he has in mind for the United States and South Korea, it's highly likely that in order for any concessions from the North Korean side, Kim will request serious modifications to the US presence on the Korean peninsula. We want a fair deal.
"Maximum pressure is having an impact", said Lim Eul-chul of Kyungnam University's Graduate School of North Korean Studies, using Trump's preferred phrase for his approach.