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17 Apr, 2018 23:39

‘A little bit short of highest level’: Trump says he spoke with North Korea’s Kim almost ‘directly’

President Donald Trump says US-North Korean talks are being held at an “extremely” high level, one level short of the “highest,” and locations are now being considered for his historic meeting with the North Korean leader.

Five locations are currently being considered for the upcoming US-North Korean leadership summit, Donald Trump told reporters at Mar-a-Lago in Palm Beach, Florida, where the US president welcomed Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.

When asked by reporters if he’d spoken with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un personally, Donald Trump responded with a “yes” – before retracting his statement and clarifying that “let's leave it a little bit short of the highest level.”

White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders also rushed to clarify Trump's statement, explaining that “the president said the administration has had talks at the highest levels and added that they were not with him directly.”

Negotiations for the US administration are reportedly being led by the former CIA Director and nominee for Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, who, according to several sources, has already met with Kim. The Associated Press and Washington Post report that the two held talks over the Easter weekend. The New York Times and CNN also reported on the issue. Pompeo's role in negotiations surfaced after Trump told reporters that the US and North Koreans are engaged at "very high levels."

“We have had direct talks at very high levels, extremely high levels, with North Korea. And I really believe this allows good will, that good things are happening,” Trump said on Wednesday morning.

Telling reporters that the summit could be “in early June or a little before,” the US leader, however, also voiced the possibility that the meeting may not happen at all. “We’ll see what happens. Because ultimately it’s the end result that counts, not the fact that we’re thinking about having a meeting.”

After months of saber-rattling with Kim and his infamous ‘fire and fury’ threats, Trump surprisingly agreed to meet the North Korean leader, after Kim Jong-un issued an invitation through a South Korean delegation in March.

Meanwhile, the North Korean leader and the South’s president, Moon Jae-in, are scheduled to meet at a rare inter-Korean summit on April 27. A local media report indicated that the event could put an end to more than half a century of confrontation.

Trump has welcomed the rapprochement. “They do have my blessing to discuss the end to the war,” the US President said. “People don’t realize the Korean war has not ended. It’s going on right now. And they are discussing an end to the war. So, subject to a deal, they would certainly have my blessing.”

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