White House clarifies Trump-North Korea 'call'

US President Donald Trump (L) and South Korean President Moon Jae-In (R) attend at a joint press conference at the presidential Blue House in Seoul on November 7, 2017. Photo: Jung Yeon-Je / Pool / AFP

WASHINGTON - The White House on Monday said Donald Trump had been referring to a call with South Korea's leader when he appeared to suggest a landmark direct contact with the nuclear North.

Trump raised eyebrows at a Washington media dinner on Saturday when he said “they, by the way, called up a couple of days ago and said ‘we would like to talk’.

“And I said, 'so would we, but you have to de-nuke, you have to de-nuke,’” Trump added.

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A senior administration official, speaking on condition of anonymity, told AFP that Trump had in fact been referencing a call he had on Thursday with South Korean President Moon Jae-in.

Pyongyang is the Korean peninsula's only nuclear-armed power, prompting speculation of rare direct contact between US and North Korean officials.

Moon has prodded Trump toward negotiations and has met North Korean officials himself.

Trump has taken a more bellicose position, suggesting military action is possible if North Korea does not stop efforts to develop a nuclear-armed missile capable of hitting the United States.


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