North Korean officials have told their American counterparts that the country’s leader, Kim Jong Un, is ready to discuss denuclearization, AFP reported Sunday.
It is the first time the offer was made directly to Washington, after it was previously conveyed through South Korean national security adviser Chung Eui-yong, according to the report, which cited The Wall Street Journal and Washington Post.
"The U.S. has confirmed that Kim Jong Un is willing to discuss the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula," a Trump administration official was quoted as having said.
The news comes as the United States moves to open talks with North Korea on its nuclear program. President Donald Trump recently agreed to a meeting with Kim, to be held by the end of May.
Trump later said he anticipates "tremendous success" in the meeting. The White House has stressed, however, that any meeting between Trump and Kim would be conditioned on “concrete actions” by Pyongyang.
American officials have made clear they will keep the pressure on Pyongyang to shift course by pressing on with sanctions despite Trump agreeing to the meeting with Kim.
North Korea has been seeking to develop a nuclear-tipped missile capable of reaching the U.S. mainland.
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".