Seoul – US President Donald Trump announced on Monday that he would be prepared to meet with North Korea leader Kim Jong Un under the right circumstances.
He told Bloomberg he would be open to a meeting, if appropriate, “I would be honored to do it.”
The White House said conditions are not right for the president to meet Kim.
White House spokesman Sean Spicer said he does not see that happening anytime soon, adding Kim would have to show signs of “good faith.” But Spicer did not elaborate on exactly what conditions would have to be met.
Tensions with North Korea have escalated recently as American and other intelligence agencies have suggested the country was readying a possible nuclear test.
The Trump administration has said all options, including a military strike, are on the table.
North Korea accused the Washington on Tuesday of pushing the Korean peninsula to the brink of nuclear war after a pair of strategic US bombers flew training drills with the South Korean and Japanese air forces in another show of strength.
The two supersonic B-1B Lancer bombers were deployed amid rising tensions over North Korea’s dogged pursuit of its nuclear and missile programs in defiance of United Nations sanctions and pressure from the United States.
South Korean Defense Ministry spokesman Moon Sang-gyun told a briefing in Seoul that Monday’s joint drill was conducted to deter provocations by the North and to test readiness against another potential nuclear test.
The US air force said in a statement the bombers had flown from Guam to conduct training exercises with the South Korean and Japanese air forces.
North Korea said the bombers conducted “a nuclear bomb dropping drill against major objects” in its territory at a time when Trump and “other US warmongers are crying out for making a preemptive nuclear strike” on the North.
“The reckless military provocation is pushing the situation on the Korean peninsula closer to the brink of nuclear war,” the North’s official KCNA news agency said on Tuesday.
Tensions on the Korean peninsula have been high for weeks, driven by concerns that the North might conduct its sixth nuclear test in defiance of pressure from the United States and Pyongyang’s sole major ally, China.
China’s Global Times, a state-backed tabloid that does not necessarily reflect national policy, said in an editorial late on Monday the United States should not rely on China alone to pressure Pyongyang into giving up its nuclear ambitions.
April could prove a “turning point”, the paper said, but “Washington … must also continue to exert its own efforts on the issue”.
It was widely feared North Korea could conduct its sixth nuclear test on or around April 15 to celebrate the anniversary of the birth of the North’s founding leader, Kim Il Sung, or on April 25 to coincide with the 85th anniversary of the foundation of its Korean People’s Army.
The North has conducted such tests or missile launches to mark significant events in the past.
Instead, North Korea conducted an annual military parade, featuring a display of missiles, on April 15 and then a large, live-fire artillery drill 10 days later.