"President Trump has said for some time that he was open to talks and he would willingly meet with Kim when conditions were right", the top US diplomat said.
"The president will not have the meeting without seeing concrete steps and concrete actions take place by North Korea" toward "denuclearizing", White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders told reporters. Neither the tweeting Trump nor the increasingly powerful Xi Jinping of China deserves any merit for this rapprochement.
That may now be changing.
The optimism was largely echoed on the streets of the capital Seoul.
The big news of the day is Kim Jong Un's invitation of President Trump to a meeting to discuss denuclearization.
"Kim isn't inviting Trump to relinquish his nuclear weapons".
"President's Trump decision to accept Kim Jong Un's invitation is highly praised by the world, by the people of North and South Korea, who are hoping for peace", said spokesman Kim Eui-Kyeom.
Under the "Agreed Framework", North Korea halted construction of two reactors the United States believed were for nuclear weapons production in return for two alternative nuclear power reactors that could be used to provide electricity but not bomb fuel, and 500,000 annual metric tons of fuel oil for the North. What could possibly go wrong?
Even without major, game-changing breakthroughs, simply establishing a viable channel of communication and a baseline relationship could make it easier to defuse future tensions before they get out of hand.
The South Koreans have demonstrated that it's possible to negotiate with the North and come to a mutual understanding. "He understands the routine joint military exercises between the Republic of Korea and the United States must continue".
Last July, the newly elected South Korean president stunned everyone with his speech in Berlin.
"The fundamental definition of denuclearization is quite different between Washington and Pyongyang", Revere said, noting that as recently as Jan. 1, Kim had vigorously reaffirmed the importance of nukes for North Korea's security.
In recent months, Trump has belittled Kim as the "rocket man", threatening him with "fire and fury", while Kim has called Trump "a mentally deranged US dotard".
"What we know is that the maximum-pressure campaign has clearly been effective", Sanders said.
The prospect of the first U.S. -North Korea summit has allayed those fears somewhat. The question is whether Trump has the diplomatic skill to do this.
"Kim pledged that North Korea will refrain from any further nuclear or missile tests".
They could also meet in the truce village of Panmunjom in the Demilitarized Zone between the rival Koreas or, Hong said, the southern South Korean resort island of Jeju. And now that China is gunning to take the global leadership mantle from the US, that reputation is more important to Beijing than ever.
The flipside to all this is that talk of summitry and potential breakthroughs may simply be a ruse to buy North Korea more time.
He said of Kim Jong-un: "What changed was his posture in a fairly dramatic way". I'd like to thank President Trump, the Vice President, and his wonderful national security team, including my close friend, General McMaster. The European Union , Russia and China - whose leader spoke by phone with Trump on Friday - have all welcomed the move.
"Well done, President Trump".
The development is still stunning, following months of mutual hostility and insult-trading by the long-standing enemies. Tillerson said the decision to agree to the meeting was "a decision the president took himself". "No talks and zooming straight to a Kim Jong Un-Donald J. Trump summit are both likely to end badly".
At one point, Colbert attempted to make a joke asking Trump, "How about bringing peace to your own country first", only to flub the line as he hadn't had time to rehearse.