In an unprecedented breakthrough, North Korean leader Kim Jong-un expressed to South Korean envoys that his country would be willing to take steps towards denuclearization and begin talks with the United States.
The regime said on Tuesday it would do so only if the U.S. would guarantee its security and said the country would not engage in any provocations or ballistic missile tests during negotiations, according to The New York Times.
The news came after South Korean envoys paid a two-day visit to Pyongyang. The two Koreas also agreed to "hold a summit meeting" between Kim and South Korean President Moon Jae-in on the border between the two countries, to take place in later April.
"The North Korean side clearly stated its willingness to denuclearize," a statement from Moon's office said. "It made it clear that it would have no reason to keep nuclear weapons if the military threat to the North was eliminated and its security guaranteed."
The statement continued, "The North expressed its willingness to hold a heartfelt dialogue with the United States on the issues of denuclearization and normalizing relations with the United States. It made it clear that while dialogue is continuing, it will not attempt any strategic provocations, such as nuclear and ballistic missile tests."
The North's pledge to denuclearize in exchange for regime security is a substantial and historic breakthrough in efforts to avert a catastrophic crisis on the Korean Peninsula. North Korea has not yet corroborated the report, but it would mark the first time such a deal was discussed, the Times noted.
Tensions between North Korea and the U.S. dramatically escalated during President Donald Trump's first year in office as the two exchanged in personal insults, and the North tested missiles while the U.S. and South Korea conducted various joint military exercises.
The White House has not yet offered a statement on the news or said if it would guarantee the regime any security, but Trump weighed in briefly on Twitter with his reality-show tactics and said, "we will see."