Trump expresses 'openness to holding talks' with North Korea

The president spoke with South Korea's president by phone Wednesday.

January 10, 2018, 1:56 PM

— -- In a significant reversal of the hostile rhetoric he has engaged with North Korea over the first year of his presidency, President Donald Trump signaled a willingness to take part in diplomatic negotiations with the rogue Asian nation during a phone call with South Korean President Moon Jae-in Wednesday.

A readout of the call from the White House said that Trump "expressed his openness to holding talks between the United States and North Korea at the appropriate time, under the right circumstances." The two leaders additionally "underscored the importance of continuing the maximum pressure campaign against North Korea," according to the White House.

South Korea's Yonhap news agency reported similar details about the conversation, writing that Moon's office issued a press release in which it said that Moon and Trump "agreed to closely consult on the direction of talks between the South and North Korea in the future.

The conversation between Trump and Moon came as representatives from South Korea and North Korea met on Tuesday for diplomatic discussions for the first time in more than two years. Moon credited Trump for facilitating those talks, saying in an address Wednesday prior to his call with the U.S. president that Trump played a "big" role.

"I extend my gratitude to President Trump," Moon said.

The relationship between Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has featured persistent threats and personal attacks over the course of the past year as North Korea has continued to engage in missile tests.

Most recently, in response to Kim's claim that a "nuclear button" sits on his desk, Trump tweeted a request that, "someone from [Kim's] depleted and food starved regime please inform him that I too have a Nuclear Button, but it is a much bigger & more powerful one than his, and my Button works!"

Prior to Wednesday's call between Trump and Moon, the U.S. president has been inconsistent in his position about whether diplomatic action could be successful in curtailing North Korean aggression.

In October, he tweeted that he told Secretary of State Rex Tillerson -- whom he described as "wonderful" -- "that he is wasting his time trying to negotiate with Little Rocket Man," using his nickname for Kim.

He added in a subsequent tweet, "Save your energy Rex, we'll do what has to be done!"

ABC News' Alexander Mallin contributed to this report.

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