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Bumpy Road to (Possible) Peace: Major Landmarks Leading to Trump-Kim Talks

© REUTERS / KCNANorth Korean leader Kim Jong Un views the dawn from the summit of Mt Paektu April 18, 2015, in this photo released by North Korea's Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) on April 19, 2015.
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un views the dawn from the summit of Mt Paektu April 18, 2015, in this photo released by North Korea's Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) on April 19, 2015. - Sputnik International
The two leaders, who are known for their bellicose rhetoric, have surprisingly agreed to hold a meeting, although the time and venue are yet to be determined.

In a recent turn of events, the US President Donald Trump has accepted North Korea’s invitation for direct talks with the country’s leader Kim Jong-un. The path to possible peace has been quite precipitious; here is the timeline showing the key developments eventually facilitating the envisaged negotiations.

North Korea’s First ICBM Test

On July 4, 2017, Pyongyang claimed it had conducted its first successful test of intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM).

President Trump has vowed to “very strongly” confront North Korea over its missile tests.

NK’s Second ICBM Test

A mere 24 days later, Pyongyang launched its second IBM, doubling down on its threat to develop a nuclear strike capability against the US mainland in the face of severe warnings from Trump. Kim Jong-un personally supervised the late night launch of the missile, saying it was a “stern warning” for the United States that it would not be safe from destruction if it tried to attack.

READ MORE: N Korea Sends 'Positive Signals' But There Is Long Way From Talks — Tillerson

Fire and Fury

In August, Trump issued a stark warning to North Korea, saying that the country would be "met with fire and fury like the world has never seen" if it continued threatening the United States.

NK Conducts Sixth Nuclear Test

On September 3, North Korea successfully conducted a test of a hydrogen bomb, preliminarily estimated to have a yield of up to 70 kilotons.

READ MORE: Japan Prime Minister Lauds North Korea Denuclearization Offer

President Trump, for his part, continued calling on regional partners to amplify pressure on Pyongyang following North Korea’s sixth nuclear test.

NK Fires IBM Over Japan

Tensions were running high as on September 15 North Korea launched an intermediate-range ballistic missile over Japan into the Pacific with flight distance of 3,700 kilometers, thereby putting the US territory of Guam within range.

Rocket Man on a Suicide Mission

Trump gave first major UN speech, during which he called the North Korean leader a "rocket man" on a "suicide mission" and warned Pyongyang that the country would be totally destroyed if it attacked the United States or its allies.

Following the speech, the North Korean leader responded, calling Trump a “dotard” exhibiting "mentally deranged behavior."

State Sponsor of Terrorism

Trump announced the re-listing of North Korea as a state sponsor of terrorism, in a bold move to dramatically increase pressure on Pyongyang.

North Korea was removed from the official State Department terrorism list in 2008 by President George W. Bush.

NK’s Third ICBM

On November 29, North Korea fired its third ICBM, which flew both higher and longer than previous such launches, an act of defiance against President Trump after he put the country back on the list of state sponsors of terrorism.

Kim Ready to Send North Korean Athletes to Olympics

In a New Year’s address, Kim Jong-un voiced readiness to send North Korean athletes to Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang.

"The Winter Games to be held in South Korea will be a good occasion for the country. We sincerely hope that the Winter Olympics will be a success. We are ready to take various steps, including the dispatch of a delegation. To this end, the two Koreas can immediately meet," Kim said.

My Button is Bigger Than His

After Kim warned Trump about Pyongyang’s nuclear capabilities, Trump lashed back at the North Korean via his beloved Twitter, insisting that his “nuclear button” was “bigger.”

US & South Korea Postpone Military Exercise

Shortly after that, the United States and South Korea agreed to delay annual joint military drills until after Winter Olympics and Paralympics in Pyeongchang.

READ MORE: 'Bromance': Twitterians Go Bananas as Donald Trump and Kim Jong-un Agree to Meet

North and South Korea at Olympic Games

Following the first high-level talks between North and South Korea in more than two years, Pyongyang agreed to send a delegation of officials and athletes to the Winter Olympic Games in Pyeongchang.

READ MORE: S Korea Welcomes Meeting Between US, N Korean Leaders as 'Historic Milestone'

On February 9, at the Olympic opening ceremony, North and South Korean athletes marched together under a unified Korean flag. On the next day, South Korean President Moon Jae-in and Kim Jong-un’s sister, Kim Yo-jong, held talks in Seoul, with the latter leaving a heart-warming message in Seoul’s presidential guest book, expressing hopes for further warming of relations and future unification.

US Imposes “Heaviest Sanctions”

On February 23, President Trump announced another batch of restrictions against North Korea, hailing the package as the "heaviest sanctions ever" levied on Pyongyang.

South Korean Envoys Visits North Korea

On March 5, South Korea’s special envoys paid a visit to North Korea and held talks with Kim Jong-un. During the two-day visit, the South Korean 10-member group focused on establishing conditions for negotiations aimed at denuclearization as well as dialogue between Washington and Pyongyang. South Korea’s presidential office revealed the results of the envoy’s meeting with the North Korean leader, including agreement of a summit meeting between the two Koreas in late April.

Prior to the envoys’ visit to Pyongyang, Trump stated that the US would be ready to meet North Korea, provided the country "denuked."

Trump-Kim Meeting Set by May

After Kim told South Korean National Security Adviser Chung Eui-yong that he was committed to denuclearization and would refrain from future nuclear weapons' tests, and was ready to meet President Trump, the latter responded positively to Kim’s invitation to meet by May.

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