Meeting N. Korea's Kim an 'honor' under right conditions

On April 26, about 20 U.S. trucks and trailers carried part of THAAD elements, including radar, to a golf course at Soseong-ri village in South Gyeongsang province.

U.S. Pacific Command said last month that it had deployed the first elements of the THAAD system to South Korea, implementing a U.S.

Despite that, Trump said he would be "honoured" to meet the North's young leader.

"I don't see this happening any time soon", White House spokesman Sean Spicer said.

A statement from the Foreign Ministry spokesman on Monday that was circulated by North Korea's U.N. Mission says the government is ready to respond to any option taken by the United States.

In a show of force, the United States has already sent an aircraft carrier strike group, led by the USS Carl Vinson, to waters off the Korean peninsula to conduct drills with South Korea and Japan.

Trump warned last Thursday that there was "absolutely" a definite chance of a "major, major war" with North Korea, while at the same time adding that "we'd love to solve things diplomatically, but it's very hard".

North Korea test-launched a missile on Saturday that appeared to have failed within minutes, its fourth successive failed launch since March.

Congressman Ed Royce, chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, chided Trump for suggesting over the weekend that South Korea should pay $1 billion in costs for the installation of a Terminal High Altitude Area Defence (THAAD) anti-ballistic missile battery.

In a telephone call on Sunday, Trump's national security adviser, H.R. McMaster, reassured his South Korean counterpart, Kim Kwan-jin, that the US alliance with South Korea was its top priority in the Asia-Pacific region, the South's presidential office said.

In May 2015, then US Assistant Secretary of State for Arms Control, Verification and Compliance, Frank Rose, admitted that Washington was mulling deploying a THAAD unit to the Korean Peninsula on a permanent basis.

A USA missile shield deployed in South Korea against China's objections is now technically ready for operations as tensions grow over North Korea's nuclear program. It has been conducting such tests at an unprecedented rate and is believed to have made progress in developing intermediate-range and submarine-launched missiles.

The ministry had said previously it expected the system to be fully operational by the end of the year.

Trump discussed the threat posed by North Korea in a telephone call with Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte, the White House said.

The Trump administration is waging a concerted diplomatic offensive to exert maximum pressure on North Korea directly, or via its ally, China.

During a 25-minute phone call on Wednesday, National Security Adviser Kim Kwan-jin and his USA counterpart H. R. McMaster agreed to maintain close cooperation over the North's saber-rattling and prompt the smooth installation of the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) system on South Korean soil.

"The United States remains open to credible talks on the denuclearisation of the Korean peninsula", it said.

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. In an interview with CBS' "Face the Nation" that aired Sunday, Trump said Kim was obviously a "pretty smart cookie" as he took power in his 20s and held it despite "a lot of people" trying to take it away.

  • Julie Sanders