Trump administration won't rule out hosting North Korea officials, Kim Jong Un at the White House for historic talks

  • President Donald Trump announced on Thursday that he had agreed to meet with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, which would be historic.
  • Trump's administration on Sunday said it would not rule out hosting the meeting at the White House — or sending Trump to Pyongyang.
  • The White House hasn't offered very many specifics about when or where the meeting would be held, as negotiations are still underway.

President's Donald Trump is poised to have a historic meeting with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, and Trump administration officials didn't rule out the possibility of it happening in the White House.

White House Principal Deputy Press Secretary Raj Shah told ABC's "This Week" on Sunday that the president is open to possibilities on the potential future meeting location.

"Nothing's being ruled out," Shah told Carl when host Jonathan Carl asked about whether a White House meeting could take place.

Shah also seemed potentially open to a meeting in the North Korean capital of Pyongyang.

"I don't think that's highly likely, but again I'm not going to rule anything out," Shah said.

Trump agreed to the possibility of a historic meeting between himself and the North Korean leader late on Thursday after South Korean envoy Chung Eui-yong told him Kim was "frank and sincere" about negotiating on his country's nuclear arsenal.

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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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Trump reportedly did so without consultation with his staff, and the White House already appeared to backtrack from its commitment on Friday.

White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said a host of conditions need to be met before any meeting could take place.

"The president will not have the meeting without seeing concrete steps and concrete actions take place by North Korea," she told reporters on Friday. "So the president would actually be getting something."

U.S. Vice President Mike Pence, North Korea's nominal head of state Kim Yong Nam, and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un's younger sister Kim Yo Jong attend the Winter Olympics opening ceremony in Pyeongchang, South Korea February 9, 2018.  Yonhap via REUTERS   Thomson Reuters

Sanders said that unless the North demonstrated that they were serious about potentially getting rid of their nuclear weapons, a meeting would not take place.

But Trump seemed to have already committed to the meeting, and Shah defended Trump's decision on Sunday.

"He's stated his commitment to denuclearization to South Korea's delegation," Shah said. "We think Kim Jong Un is the only partner in North Korea who has any authority that can make any decision. So, he's the only voice. He's stated a commitment to denuclearization to South Korea, they've relayed that us, so we're open to this invitation."

Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin said on NBC'S "Meet the Press" that the US would keep imposing heavy economic sanctions on North Korea ahead of the summit.

Central Intelligence Agency Director Mike Pompeo said the US would also continue its military exercises on the Korean Peninsula, but that he expected Pyongyang to halt its nuclear and missile testing.

Trump didn't announce the meeting "for theater," Pompeo said on "Fox News Sunday," but to solve a problem.

"Never before have we had the North Koreans in a position where their economy was at such risk, where their leadership was under such pressure that they would begin conversations on the terms that Kim Jong Un has conceded to at this point," he said.

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