Kim Jong-un says letter from Trump is ‘excellent’

Dialogue between US and North Korean leaders continues in wake of stalled talks

 North Korean leader Kim Jong-un reading a letter from US president Donald Trump: Mr Kim says he will “seriously contemplate the interesting content”. Photograph: KCNA via KNS/AFP/Getty

North Korean leader Kim Jong-un reading a letter from US president Donald Trump: Mr Kim says he will “seriously contemplate the interesting content”. Photograph: KCNA via KNS/AFP/Getty

 

US president Donald Trump has sent a letter to North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, who described its contents as “excellent”.

The Korean Central News Agency reported Mr Kim “said with satisfaction that the letter is of excellent content”.

It added: “Appreciating the political judging faculty and extraordinary courage of President Trump, Kim Jong-un said that he would seriously contemplate the interesting content.”

White House press secretary Sarah Sanders confirmed Mr Trump had sent a letter and “correspondence between the two leaders has been ongoing”.

Formal talks between the US and North Korea broke down after a failed summit between Mr Kim and Mr Trump in February in Vietnam.

But earlier in June, Mr Trump told US reporters he had received a “beautiful” letter from Mr Kim, without revealing what was written.

Sanctions and weapons

In an interview with Time magazine last week, Mr Trump said he also received a “birthday letter” from Mr Kim that was delivered by hand a day before.

The official stances remain the same. The US is demanding that North Korea abandon its nuclear weapons entirely before international sanctions are lifted.

North Korea is seeking a step-by-step approach in which moves towards denuclearisation are matched by concessions from the US, notably a relaxation of the sanctions.

South Korea’s presidential office said it sees the exchange of letters between Mr Kim and Mr Trump as a positive development for keeping the momentum for dialogue alive.

News of Mr Trump’s letter came days after Mr Kim’s summit with visiting Chinese president Xi Jinping, which experts say underscored China’s importance in the diplomatic push to resolve the nuclear standoff with the North.

Nuclear negotiations

North Korean state media said Mr Kim and Mr Xi discussed the political situation surrounding the Korean Peninsula and reached unspecified consensus on important issues.

Mr Xi is expected to meet Mr Trump next week in Japan during the G20 summit. Analysts say he could pass him a message from Mr Kim about the nuclear negotiations.

Mr Kim said during his new year speech he would seek a “new way” if the United States persists with sanctions and pressure against North Korea.

After the collapse of his meeting with Mr Trump in Hanoi, Mr Kim said Washington has until the end of the year to offer mutually acceptable terms for a deal to salvage the negotiations. – AP