President TrumpDonald TrumpPence: Supreme Court has chance to right 'historic wrong' with abortion ruling Prosecutor says during trial that actor Jussie Smollett staged 'fake hate crime' Overnight Defense & National Security — US, Iran return to negotiating table MORE will meet North Korean leader Kim Jong Un for their second summit at the end of February, the White House said Friday.
The announcement came shortly after Trump met with Kim Yong Chol, the North Korean official leading denuclearization talks, in the Oval Office on Friday afternoon.
“President Donald J. Trump met with Kim Yong Chol for an hour and half, to discuss denuclearization and a second summit, which will take place near the end of February. The President looks forward to meeting with Chairman Kim at a place to be announced at a later date,” White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said in a statement.
The face-to-face meeting will be the first between Trump and Kim Jong Un since their landmark summit in June. It represents the Trump administration’s continued efforts to bring an end to North Korea’s nuclear program, one of the president’s major foreign policy priorities.
Speculation has fallen on Vietnam as the potential location for the second summit amid reports of U.S. scouts visiting.
Kim Yong Chol’s visit to Washington this week brought broad speculation that Washington and Pyongyang could set plans for a second summit. The White House did not announce until Friday that Trump would meet with the North Korean official, just before their face-to-face.
Kim Jong Un and Trump’s first summit in June was the first between a sitting U.S. president and a North Korean leader.
The Singapore summit ended with a joint declaration where North Korea and the U.S. agreed to work toward the “complete denuclearization of the Korean peninsula” in exchange for unspecified security guarantees.
The document included no specifics on how denuclearization would be achieved, a fact seized upon by critics who said the summit was little more than a photo-op.
Trump at the end of the summit surprised allies and defense officials when he ordered the Pentagon to halt joint U.S.-South Korean military drills, which he described as overly expensive war games.
The day after, Trump declared in a tweet that North Korea was “no longer a nuclear threat.”
Since the summit, talks have stalled as the United States and North Korea appeared at an impasse over who would act first. The United States wants a full accounting of the North’s nuclear program, while Pyongyang wants Washington to lift sanctions.
A Pentagon report on missile defense released this week declared that North Korea remains an “extraordinary” threat to the U.S. as a result of Pyongyang’s nuclear and missile program.
“While a possible new avenue to peace now exists with North Korea, it continues to pose an extraordinary threat and the United States must remain vigilant,” states the Missile Defense Review report released by the administration Thursday.
Several reports over the past few months citing commercial satellite imagery have said North Korea continues to work on and conceal its missile program, which it never agreed to stop doing.
In November, Trump responded to one such report by calling it “just more fake news.”
“The story in the New York Times concerning North Korea developing missile bases is inaccurate,” he tweeted. “We fully know about the sites being discussed, nothing new - and nothing happening out of the normal. Just more Fake News. I will be the first to let you know if things go bad!”
Updated at 3:12 p.m.