WASHINGTON D.C. (HawaiiNewsNow) - The announcement that President Trump has accepted an invitation to talk from North Korean leader Kim Jong Un is being met with surprise by local leaders in Hawaii, who encouraged by the news.
The proposed meeting comes after seven decades of animosity between the two nations, along with a recent increase in threats and insults between the two leaders.
"It's North Korea that is suggesting that it will denuclearize, that it will freeze the testing for some kind of engagement, for direct talks with the United States," said Harrison Kim, an assistant professor of history at the University of Hawaii at Manoa. "This is a major change."
Kim has studied and visited North Korea. He believes the recent Winter Olympics had a major role in the possible thaw in relations.
"I think what happened in South Korea during the Olympics was a major cause, and in many ways I can see this as a very positive thing," he said.
State Rep. Gene Ward (R-Hawaii Kai) wrote a letter to President Trump last August, suggesting that the two leaders meet in Hawaii at a time when such a meeting was seen as impossible. Ward is repeating his call.
"Because they didn't specify where to have it, let's have it at the East-West Center. Let's have it at the Asia-Pacific Center for Security Studies," said Ward. "Hawaii is the perfect place that some of us call the 'Geneva of the Pacific.'"
Hawaii's congressional delegation also weighed in.
Congresswoman Colleen Hanabusa said, "If this unprecedented meeting takes place, it would mark an important step in negotiations to de-escalate nuclear tensions on the Korean Peninsula and figure out where the North Korean regime fits in the Asia-Pacific community."
Senator Mazie Hirono called the announcement an encouraging sign, but added that "the President has left the State Department without the full complement of diplomatic personnel necessary for these talks to be successful."