President Trump and South Korean President Moon Jae-in on Wednesday discussed the possibility of beginning denuclearization talks between the U.S. and North Korea sometime in the future, South Korea's Yonhap News Agency reported after their phone call.
Trump and Moon spoke for the second time in less than a week as South Korea prepares to host the Winter Olympics early next month amid tensions with its northern neighbor. The president reiterated his claim that his administration would be open to starting a dialogue with Kim Jong Un's regime, although the White House has not fully articulated what preconditions Trump will place on such talks.
"President Trump expressed his openness to holding talks between the United States and North Korea at the appropriate time, under the right circumstances," the White House said in a summary of the phone call.
North and South Korean leaders resumed discussion for the first time in years this week to negotiate ahead of the Olympics, to which North Korea plans to send its athletes. Trump told Moon he welcomes the talks between the two nations, according to Yonhap.
The war of words between Trump and Kim Jong Un in recent weeks has stoked fears that a nuclear conflict could break out on the peninsula. Those fears have been compounded by reports that the Trump administration has weighed launching a limited preemptive strike against North Korea in an effort to take out some of its nuclear capabilities, a scenario Trump reportedly denied the U.S. had considered during his conversation with Moon.
Trump has asked Vice President Mike Pence to lead the U.S. delegation to the Winter Olympics next month in a show of U.S. commitment to the region. Pence's attendance at the games is also intended to send a message to North Korea, an administration official said on Wednesday.
The White House noted Trump and Moon discussed their shared desire to curb North Korea's nuclear ambitions.
"The two leaders underscored the importance of continuing the maximum pressure campaign against North Korea," the White House said.