Trump: I believe North Korea is sincere

Trump responds after North Korea says it is willing to talk to the United States about giving up its nuclear weapons.

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Ben Ariel,

Donald Trump
Donald Trump

U.S. President Donald Trump said Tuesday that he believes that North Korea's offer to hold denuclearization talks is "sincere."

"I believe they are sincere," Trump was quoted by AFP as having told reporters after Pyongyang floated the idea of giving up its nuclear weapons in return for U.S. security guarantees.

"I hope they're sincere," the president added at a joint news conference with Swedish Prime Minister Stefan Lofven. "We'll soon find out."

Trump credited "very, very strong" sanctions and the "big help" of China for North Korea's offer to enter into talks.

"I think they're sincere also because of the sanctions and what we're doing with respect to North Korea," Trump said, adding, "(China) can do more but I think they've done more than they've ever done for our country before.”

Vice President Mike Pence, meanwhile, said Washington needed to see North Korea taking concrete steps toward denuclearization.

“Whichever direction talks with North Korea go, we will be firm in our resolve. The United States and our allies remain committed to applying maximum pressure on the Kim regime to end their nuclear program,” he said in a statement.

“All options are on the table and our posture toward the regime will not change until we see credible, verifiable, and concrete steps toward denuclearization,” stressed Pence.

Last week Pyongyang for the first time signaled its willingness to return to the negotiating table. On Tuesday, South Korea said its neighbor is willing to talk to the United States about giving up its nuclear weapons.

Leader Kim Jong Un also has agreed to refrain from conducting nuclear and missile tests while engaging in dialogue with South Korea, Seoul's national security chief Chung Eui-yong said after returning from talks with Kim.

North Korea has been seeking to develop a nuclear-tipped missile capable of reaching the U.S. mainland. Trump and Kim have taunted each other through the media in recent months.

In the most recent of its ongoing missile tests, North Korea launched a Hwasong-15 missile, a new type of intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) which officials said can fly over 13,000 km (8,080 miles).

Pyongyang said following the launch that it had test-fired its most advanced missile, putting the U.S. mainland within range, and also declared itself to be "a responsible nuclear power".

Kim claimed in January that his country has developed the capability to hit the entire U.S. mainland with its nuclear weapons.

“The entire United States is within range of our nuclear weapons, and a nuclear button is always on my desk. This is reality, not a threat,” Kim said in a televised New Year’s Day speech.

President Donald Trump later fired back, writing on Twitter, “North Korean Leader Kim Jong Un just stated that the ‘Nuclear Button is on his desk at all times.’ Will someone from his depleted and food starved regime please inform him that I too have a Nuclear Button, but it is a much bigger & more powerful one than his, and my Button works!”