Trump confirms June 12 meeting with Kim in Singapore

Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un

In 2014, when former U.S. Director of National Intelligence James Clapper Jr. visited North Korea to retrieve two prisoners, his North Korean hosts served him an "elaborate 12-course Korean meal", the veteran intelligence official said, but then insisted that he pay for it.

Trump emerged after a more than hour-long Oval Office meeting with Kim Yong Chol - a general facing USA sanctions who is Kim's right-hand man - saying that the summit will go ahead in Singapore on June 12 as originally planned.

"That letter was a very nice letter", Trump said at a White House news conference.

Trump's is the latest administration to inherit a decades-long crisis on the Korean Peninsula, where North Korea technically remains at war with its USA -backed rival since their 1950s conflict.

In the latest sign of hostility cooling down but hopes kept in check, Trump said he had unilaterally put a hold on hundreds of new sanctions against the North, without Kim's government even asking. "Why would I do that when we're talking so nicely", he said.

"I think it's probably going to be a very successful, ultimately a successful process", Trump told reporters on the White House lawn after meeting with a senior North Korean official in the Oval Office.

"We talked about nearly everything". But he said he would not remove current sanctions until the North took steps to denuclearize. "Can you believe we're talking about the ending of the Korean War?"

Trump says his meeting with the most senior North Korean to visit the White House in 18 years lasted longer than expected.

"We're going to deal", Trump told reporters moments after the meeting ended.

He added: "I may be in for a big surprise, folks".

Trump's meeting with Kim Jong Un would be the first between a US president and a North Korean leader since the division of the Korean Peninsula after an armistice was signed in July, 1953, following a civil war.

Pompeo said on Thursday that, after what have now been two meetings with Kim Jong Un and three with Kim Yong Chol, he believes the North is at least ready to consider addressing USA demands for denuclearization. Despite Kim's apparent eagerness for a summit with Trump, there are many doubts that he would fully relinquish his nuclear arsenal, which he may see as his guarantee of survival.

Kim Yong Chol was spotted leaving his hotel in New York City early Friday for the trip to Washington in a convoy of SUVs. He also indicated that South Korea, China, and Japan would be prepared to invest in the North to boost its besieged economy.

On Thursday, Kim Jong Un told Russia's Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov that his commitment to denuclearization remains "unchanged and consistent and fixed", but experts warn he will seek concessions from Washington.

Trump had called off plans for a summit in a letter to Kim on May 24, complaining of "the tremendous anger and open hostility" in comments from North Korea. By the next day, he was signaling the event could be back on after a conciliatory response from North Korea.

Kim Yong Chul, who till now was under USA sanctions, is likely to stay in the country till tomorrow.

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