U.S. President Donald Trump's administration has told China that he is open to welcoming North Korean leader Kim Jong Un for a meeting in the United States, if Pyongyang abandons its nuclear and missile programs, diplomatic sources said Monday.
The idea is part of a set of proposals that the United States floated during recent discussions with Chinese officials on how best to deal with the North Korean nuclear issue.
The new U.S. administration has also said it would not resort to military action and would provide a security guarantee for Kim's regime if the weapons programs were scrapped, said the sources, who spoke on condition of anonymity.
U.S. officials have said all options, including a military strike, are on the table in trying to curb North Korea's nuclear ambitions. But they have said at the same time that the door for dialogue is open.
Trump's administration said late last month that Washington's basic approach toward North Korea is to pressure it into dismantling its nuclear program by "tightening economic sanctions and pursuing diplomatic measures with our allies and regional partners."
Trump said also earlier this month in a U.S. media interview that he does not rule out a meeting with the North Korean leader if an appropriate environment is created.
The U.S. proposals center on four promises.
In return for North Korea's abolishment of its development of nuclear and missile technologies, the United States would not seek regime change, regime collapse or an accelerated reunification of the Korean Peninsula, nor would it looking for an excuse to advance north of the 38th Parallel, the de facto inter-Korean border.
China is believed to have already informed North Korea of all those U.S. proposals.
North Korea has urged the United States to withdraw its armed forces in South Korea and sign a permanent peace treaty to replace the armistice that stopped, but technically never ended, the 1950-1953 Korean War.
North Korea does not hide its willingness to return to the negotiating table with the United States.
A senior North Korean diplomat in charge of U.S. affairs is scheduled to meet soon with former U.S. government officials in Norway, according to separate diplomatic sources.
Choe Son Hui, head of the Foreign Ministry's U.S. affairs bureau, is almost certain to discuss bilateral and nuclear issues with the former officials.
However, it is highly unlikely for North Korea to stop its nuclear and missile programs any time soon and before the United States provides a security guarantee to the regime in concrete terms.
For many years, North Korea has argued its pursuit of nuclear weapons is essential to deter U.S. military action.
Believing that the chance of North Korea accepting the U.S. proposals is slim, China has presented its own proposals, which include offering economic aid to North Korea in exchange for its decision to give up the arms programs, and North Korea and the United States working toward concluding a peace treaty, according to the sources.
The U.S. administration has been pressing China to use more of its political and economic leverage over North Korea.
But China has claimed that the crux of the North Korean nuclear issue is the dispute between Washington and Pyongyang.
While the leadership under Chinese President Xi Jinping is increasingly irked by a series of North Korea's banned weapons tests in defiance of international warnings, Beijing has said countless times that it is against the use of military force and called for dialogue to ease tensions on the peninsula.
Earlier this year, China publicly called on North Korea to suspend its nuclear and missile activities in return for the United States discontinuing its annual military exercises with South Korea.