PALM BEACH: US President Donald Trump voiced hope Wednesday that North and South Korea, technically still at war, can pave the way to a lasting peace at a series of upcoming summits.
Trump made the comments amid a flurry of diplomatic activity that has fuelled hopes of a major breakthrough in the standoff with Pyongyang.
"We hope to see the day when the whole Korean peninsula can live together in safety, prosperity and peace," the US president told a joint press conference with visiting Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe at his Mar-a-Lago retreat in Florida.
"As I've said before, there is a bright path available to North Korea when it achieves denuclearization in a complete and verifiable and irreversible way," Trump said.
"It will be a great day for them and a great day for the world," added Trump, who is planning to meet North Korea's leader Kim Jong Un in the next two months.
Trump reveals direct North Korea contacts, okays peace talks
Earlier Wednesday, the US leader confirmed a clandestine meeting had already taken place between his CIA chief and the North's reclusive leader.
News of the talks between Kim and Mike Pompeo, Trump's pick to be the next secretary of state, comes with hopes riding high on a pair of upcoming and potentially historic summits.
Kim is expected to meet South Korea's President Moon Jae-in next week for landmark talks at which discussion of a formal peace declaration is now on the cards. Trump's talks with Kim would then follow.
Trump earlier said that the inter-Korean summit could, with his "blessing," explore a peace treaty to formally end the conflict.
But reaching any final treaty would be fraught with complications: while the US-led United Nations command, China and North Korea are signatories to the decades-old armistice, South Korea is not.
"This is the destiny of the Korean people who deserve and have gone through so much over the years," the president said, as he reiterated his hope for a lasting peace agreement.
"We hope it all works out. We'll be trying very hard."
Trump and Kim have not yet spoken directly, the White House said, but the president revealed Tuesday that there had been contact at "very high levels" to prepare for the historic meeting — an apparent reference to Pompeo's visit.
US officials say that no decision has yet been made on a meeting venue, but China, North Korea, South Korea, and Panmunjom in the Demilitarized Zone are seen as possible locations.