N. Korea to stop nuclear weapons tests if it has US talks

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un greets Chung Eui-yong head of the presidential National Security Office in Pyongyang

North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un is willing to talk about the denuclearization if his country's security is guaranteed and if North Korea talks with the United States, South Korea said Tuesday.

North and South agreed to hold a summit in late April in Panmunjom, the truce village in the DMZ, Mr Chung said after leading the most senior delegation to travel North for more than a decade. They've also agreed to establish a hot line between the two leaders to ease military tensions on the Korean peninsula.

South Korea earlier said the subject was raised when its officials met the North's leader, Kim Jong-un, on Monday.

President Donald Trump was referring to his South Korean counterpart on Saturday evening when he cryptically recounted a telephone call he'd taken about opening talks with North Korea.

But on Tuesday morning, a U.S. official said Trump was referring to a call he'd taken earlier in the week from South Korean President Moon Jae-in. The U.S. has until now largely been skeptical of the North's intentions, citing past agreements that led to a freeze in the nuclear program in exchange for aid but ultimately broke down.

Last week, Kim met with Gary Cohn, director of the White House National Economic Council, and U.S. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, as well as lawmakers and industry people to discuss trade issues.

"For the first time in many years, a serious effort is being made by all parties concerned", he tweeted.

In May 2008, North Korea demands the United States remove it from its list of state sponsors of terrorism and Washington complies in October, prompting the North to resume tearing down its Yongbyon nuclear plant.

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Throughout February's Winter Olympics in South Korea, the two countries struck a friendly tone, sending athletes to compete in a joint team and holding talks.

"We don't really have any choice but to welcome this development and take it seriously, but there also is every reason to hold our applause and watch for a real shift in the North's military programs and posture", one of the officials said. The United States has made it clear that it doesn't want empty talks with North Korea and that all options, including military measures, remain on the table.

The North Korean leader assumed power after his father, Jong-il, died in late 2011.

North Korea has a history of striking bargains with the outside world, nearly always involving some kind of payment for some kind of weapons freeze. South Korean delegates are also expected to visit the United States.

"It insists that it will have dialogue only for making the DPRK abandon nuclear weapons and persist in "maximum pressure" until complete denuclearization is realized", a North Korean Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesperson told the official Korean Central News Agency.

He said part of the discussion must include the immediate halt of further ballistic missile and nuclear weapons testing from North Korea.

Kim Yo Jong's trip was the first to the South by a member of the North's ruling dynasty since the end of the 1950-53 Korean War.

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