President Donald Trump agreed Thursday to a historic first meeting with Kim Jong Un in a stunning development in America's high-stakes nuclear standoff with North Korea.
Standing in front of the White House, South Korean National Security Advisor Chung Eui-yong earlier announced the first ever meeting between a US president and North Korean leader, which he said would take place by the end of May.
Chung had recently returned from Pyongyang, where he met Kim personally. According to the South Korean official, the reclusive young leader "expressed his eagerness to meet president Trump as soon as possible."
Trump confirmed he had agreed to meet Kim -- hailing "great progress" in the push to persuade Pyongyang to end its nuclear programme.
"Meeting being planned!" Trump tweeted. "Kim Jong Un talked about denuclearization with the South Korean Representatives, not just a freeze. Also, no missile testing by North Korea during this period of time."
"Great progress being made but sanctions will remain until an agreement is reached."
The news came almost out of the blue, after a period of extreme tension and bellicose rhetoric between Washington and Pyongyang that sounded like the growing drumbeat of war.