Pyongyang: Trump's invitation 'interesting' but no official request

Seoul (AFP) –


North Korea on Saturday said US President Donald Trump's surprise invitation to meet Kim Jong Un was "interesting", but that it had yet to receive an official request.

Earlier in the day Trump invited the North's leader to meet for a historic handshake at the demilitarised zone (DMZ) between North and South Korea in what he said was a spontaneous offer.

"We see it as a very interesting suggestion, but we have not received an official proposal in this regard," the official KCNA news agency quoted Vice Foreign Minister Choe Son Hui as saying.

"I am of the view that if the DPRK-US summit meetings take place on the division line, as is intended by President Trump, it would serve as another meaningful occasion in further deepening the personal relations between the two leaders and advancing the bilateral relations."

If Kim accepts the offer, it would be the third meeting between the leaders of the two former enemies amid efforts to denuclearise the Korean peninsula.

Trump's invitation -- via Twitter -- came amid a recent flurry of diplomacy over North Korea's nuclear programme after a Trump-Kim summit in Hanoi collapsed without an agreement.

"After some very important meetings, including my meeting with President Xi of China, I will be leaving Japan for South Korea (with President Moon)," Trump tweeted.

"While there, if Chairman Kim of North Korea sees this, I would meet him at the Border/DMZ just to shake his hand and say Hello(?)!," he wrote from Japan, where he is attending G20 summit, on Saturday morning.

Trump will be heading to Seoul immediately after the G20 summit in Osaka, where he held a highly anticipated meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping in a bid to ease trade tensions between the world's top two economies.

The DMZ, where Trump has offered to meet with the North's Kim, is the finishing line of the 1950-53 Korean War, where South Korean forces backed by a US-led UN coalition fought to a standstill with North Korean and Chinese troops.

"Now that he has been publicly called out -- with letters and a personal connection serving as the basis of a fragile detente -- I would bet Kim will travel to the DMZ to meet Trump," said Harry J. Kazianis, Director of Korean Studies at the Center for the National Interest.