North Korea’s leader Kim Jong Un has received an “excellent” letter from President Donald Trump, and is seriously considering what his American counterpart had to say, North Korean state media reported Sunday.
Earlier this month, Trump announced he had received a “beautiful letter” from Kim, breaking the silence between the two men since a summit in Hanoi in February ended in failure. Now, Trump appears to have written back, and received a similarly warm response.
Kim “said with satisfaction that the letter is of excellent content,” the Korean Central News Agency reported.
“Appreciating the political judging faculty and extraordinary courage of President Trump, Kim Jong Un said that he would seriously contemplate the interesting content,” the agency said.
The White House confirmed a letter had been sent, and there was speculation that the exchange of letters could pave the way for a third summit between the two leaders.
Trump will travel to South Korea’s capital, Seoul, June 29-30, and some experts had suggested he might even try to arrange a meeting with Kim at the border between North and South Korea – although that would give the two sides no time to prepare.
The news of Trump’s letter comes just after a landmark state visit to North Korea by Chinese leader Xi Jinping, which celebrated and strengthened the ties between the two countries. That visit has also helped bolster China’s role as a significant player in North Korea’s denuclearization talks.
Xi is due to meet Trump at the Group of 20 summit in Osaka, Japan, which takes place Friday and Saturday, and will also meet South Korean President Moon Jae-in there.
In a statement, South Korea’s presidential Blue House said it viewed the exchange of letters positively, adding that it “carries on the momentum for talks between the two countries.”
The U.S.-North Korea peace process and denuclearization talks hit a stalemate after the collapse of the Hanoi summit.
There, North Korea had asked for the removal of all significant economic sanctions, in return for a partial rollback of its bombmaking capability but no surrender of its existing nuclear arsenal. Trump had offered what he called a “big deal,” support for North Korea’s economy in return for North Korea handing over all its nuclear facilities and weapons.
North Korean state media has angrily denounced the U.S. position since that summit but has refrained from criticizing Trump directly and even referred to the positive relationship between the two leaders, a sentiment consistently echoed by Trump himself.
(c) 2019, The Washington Post · Simon Denyer