Kim Jong-un Praises 'Excellent' Letter from Trump

  • VOA News

    June 24, 2019 08:20

    North Korean leader Kim Jong-un has received a personal letter from U.S. President Donald Trump and is contemplating its contents, North Korean state media reported Sunday.

    The official [North] Korean Central News Agency posted a picture of a pensive Kim holding a letter, apparently with White House letterhead. The report quoted Kim as praising its "excellent content."

    "Appreciating the political judging faculty and extraordinary courage of President Trump, Kim Jong-un said that he would seriously contemplate the interesting content," KCNA reported.

    The report did not say anything else about the content of the letter. U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, as he left Washington for a trip to the Mideast on Sunday, confirmed the letter was sent to Kim. The top U.S. diplomat said he is "hopeful that this will provide a good foundation for us to begin, and to continue these important discussions with the Koreans to denuclearize the peninsula."

    North Korean leader Kim Jong-un reads a letter from U.S. President Donald Trump, in Pyongyang, North Korea, in this picture released by the [North] Korean Central News Agency on June 22, 2019. /Reuters

    ◆ Exchanging Letters, Photos

    Trump said earlier this month he received a "beautiful," "very personal" and "very warm" letter from the North Korean leader. Though nuclear talks between U.S. and North Korean officials are stalled, Kim and Trump have been exchanging letters and pictures for the past year, and both men say their relationship remains warm.

    Working-level talks broke down after a February summit between Trump and Kim in Hanoi, Vietnam, ended in no deal. Kim was unhappy with the pace of U.S. sanctions relief, while Trump was upset Kim would not commit to completely giving up his nuclear program.

    Since then, North Korea has tested several short-range ballistic missiles and other weapons. Kim has said he will give Washington until the end of the year to become more flexible in the talks.

    U.S. officials have shrugged off North Korea's weapons tests and end-of-the-year ultimatum. Trump has said he is willing to hold a third summit with Kim if the conditions are right.

    ◆ G20 and Beyond

    Trump will visit South Korea following his meetings in Japan at the Group of 20 summit. There has been speculation, though no evidence, that Trump could try to hold another high-profile summit at that time. South Korean officials have also said they are working to hold a summit between the leaders of North and South Korea before Trump's visit.

    The letter comes a day after Chinese President Xi Jinping wrapped up a state visit to North Korea, where he promised to play an active role in the nuclear talks.

    "After months of an impasse in the negotiations and little contact between the U. S. and North Korea, it appears there is some diplomatic maneuvering underway," said Bonnie Glaser, an Asia specialist at the Center for Strategic and International Studies. "[It is] unclear yet whether Xi's visit to Pyongyang played a role, or whether other factors are at play," she added.

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