WASHINGTON (CN) – Despite South Korea’s announcement that North Korea is willing to give up its nuclear weapons as part of negotiations, the Trump administration remains cautious given North Korea’s history of backing off similar pronouncements, a senior administration official said Tuesday.
South Korea announced earlier in the day that North Korea would be willing to disarm and stop testing its nuclear weapons in talks with the United States, leading President Donald Trump to say the reclusive nation “seems to be acting positively” after spending months verbally sparring with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.
“I think that their statement, and the statements coming out of South Korea and North Korea have been very positive,” Trump said on Tuesday, according to a White House pool report. “That would be a great thing for the world. A great thing for the world. So we’ll see how it all comes about.”
South Korea has kept the United States updated on its diplomatic trip to North Korea and the administration plans to discuss the developments from the trip in more detail with South Korea and Japan later this week. North Korea has previously stated it would not put its nuclear weapons on the table during any discussion with the United States.
But a senior administration official told reporters on Tuesday that North Korea must back up its promises of denuclearization with action, saying the country has “earned our skepticism” of its promises. The official said North Korea has in the past put unreasonable asks on the United States in exchange for denuclearization and that the administration will know more about its sincerity after meeting with the South Koreans this week.
Trump hailed the South Korean announcement in a tweet on Tuesday morning, though he acknowledged there is reason to be cautious with the pronouncement.
“Possible progress being made in talks with North Korea,” Trump tweeted. “For the first time in many years, a serious effort is being made by all parties concerned. The world is watching and waiting! May be false hope, but the U.S. is ready to go hard in either direction.”