I'm going to the summit to demand denuclearization - if it happens

Credit Inked Pixels  Shutterstock

North Korean leader Kim Jong-un shakes hands with South Korean President Moon Jae-in during the April 27 talks in Panmunjom.

"The reality is this could mean a lot of things ranging from 1) nothing, to 2) DPRK [North Korea's] domestic politics to 3) a warning shot about all the USA maximum pressure talk to 4) a real change in DPRK intentions", tweeted Vipin Narang, an MIT professor who specializes in nuclear strategy.

The groundbreaking agreement for Kim and Trump to meet came about as North Korea said it was committed to denuclearizing the Korean peninsula. "He'll be there and he'll be ready".

If America "corners us and unilaterally demands we give up nuclear weapons we will no longer have an interest in talks and will have to reconsider whether we will accept the upcoming DPRK-US summit", state media quoted vice-foreign minister Kim Kye-gwan as saying.

KCNA also denounced the Max Thunder joint military exercises being held between the United States and South Korea as a "rude and wicked provocation", and Seoul said it had received a message cancelling planned high-level talks "indefinitely".

Later addressing reporters at the White House, Trump said Washington would not drop its insistence on denuclearization, adding the USA has not been notified of any change to the June 12 summit slated to take place in the city-state of Singapore. Some experts speculate that North Korea might expect the U.S.to remove its military presence from the Korean Peninsula if it wants to achieve denuclearization.

China, North Korea's sole major ally, called for the summit to go ahead.

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The North and South Korean Olympic teams march together in the opening ceremony for the Winter Games.

In recent weeks Kim has twice met Chinese President Xi Jinping and Pyongyang has announced it will destroy its nuclear testing site next week.

"Seeing the announced statements and responses from North Korea and the United States, we see the two parties as having a honest and serious attitude (to stand in each other's shoes)", the official said.

Kim was clearly signaling he's not done yet with the classic North Korean strategy of provocations and demands.

"The fact that the Trump administration seems to be showing some flexibility is a welcome development because its posture on denuclearisation thus far has been too inflexible to lead to a meaningful deal with North Korea", said Mintaro Oba, a former US State Department official who worked on North Korean issues. In return USA would aid North Korean economy by lifting sanctions and allowing private capital to flow into the country.

She also added that the exercises are "certainly not provocative".

A USA official said the North Korean statements had taken the White House off guard after North Korean leader Kim's diplomatic outreach to the United States and South Korea.

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