Mnuchin: Trump's condition for Kim meeting is no nuclear, missile test

WASHINGTON, March 11 (Reuters) - U.S. President Donald Trump's condition for meeting North Korean leader Kim Jong-un is that there be no nuclear or missile testing, Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin said on Sunday.

"There shouldn't be confusion," Mnuchin told NBC's "Meet the Press" program, when asked about White House press secretary Sarah Sanders' statement on Friday that there would be no meeting without concrete and verifiable actions by North Korea.

"The president has made it clear that the conditions are that there's no nuclear testing and there's no missiles and those will be a condition through the meeting."

After months of escalating tensions over North Korea's advancing nuclear and missile programs, Trump decided on Thursday to become the first sitting U.S. president to meet with North Korea's leader.

RELATED: Countdown to a standoff: A timeline of tension with North Korea

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Countdown to a standoff: A timeline of tension with North Korea
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Countdown to a standoff: A timeline of tension with North Korea

Jan. 6, 2016:

After four years in power, Kim Jong Un says his country can produce a hydrogen bomb, the first step toward a nuclear weapon that could target the United States. The nation tests a device, but Western experts are not convinced it is a genuine hydrogen bomb.

Feb. 7, 2016:

North Korea sends up a satellite. The United States calls this a disguised test of an engine powerful enough to launch an ICBM.

March 9, 2016:

North Korea claims it can miniaturize a nuclear device to fit onto a missile.

June 23, 2016:

North Korea says it has successfully tested an intermediate range ballistic missile (IRBM), with a range of 2,000 to 3,400 miles. Kim Jong Un claims the country can now attack "Americans in the Pacific operation theater," including the territory of Guam.

Sept. 9, 2016:

North Korea conducts its fifth and largest nuclear test on the anniversary of the country's founding. It says it has mastered the ability to mount a warhead on a ballistic missile.

April 15, 2017:

North Korea reveals a new ICBM design, displaying the missiles at a military parade to mark the birthday of founding leader Kim Il Sung. Within three months, the missiles are tested.

July 4, 2017:

North Korea tests an ICBM for the first time, saying it can launch a missile that can reach the continental United States. The missile, Hwasong-14, is tested again three weeks later, this time in a night launch.

Aug. 8, 2017:

North Korea's army threatens to fire missiles towards Guam in an "enveloping fire." The message comes hours after President Donald Trump warns Pyongyang that it will be "met with fire and fury" if North Korea does not stop threatening the United States.

Aug. 23, 2017:

North Korea publishes photographs of Kim beside a diagram of what appears to be a new ICBM. Weapons experts say it will be more powerful than the missiles tested by Pyongyang in July, and could have Washington and New York within range.

Aug 29, 2017:

North Korea fires an intermediate range missile over northern Japan, prompting warnings to residents to take cover. The missile falls into the Pacific Ocean, but sharply raises tensions in the region.

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On Saturday, Trump said his meeting could fizzle without an agreement or it could result in "the greatest deal for the world" with a denuclearization of the Korean peninsula.

Mnuchin dismissed criticism that Trump's decision to meet elevates the North Korean leader's international standing. He said the Republican president has also been criticized for not using more diplomacy to contain Pyongyang's nuclear ambitions.

"Now we have a situation where the president is using diplomacy but we're not removing the maximum pressure campaign," Mnuchin said. "That's the big difference here. The sanctions are staying on. The defense posture is staying the same as it is, so the president is going to sit down and see if he can cut a deal."

Mnuchin said denuclearization of the peninsula is the objective of a meeting between the two leaders.

"We've been very clear ... that's the objective and that's what we're going to accomplish," he said.

He said he was confident the meeting would take place. (Reporting by Doina Chiacu; Editing by Jeffrey Benkoe)

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