Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 24 October 2019

Kim Jong-un receives 'excellent' letter from Trump

The letter arrived amid a deadlock in nuclear talks between Washington and Pyongyang

North Korean leader Kim Jong-un reads a letter from US President Donald Trump. AP
North Korean leader Kim Jong-un reads a letter from US President Donald Trump. AP

North Korean leader Kim Jong-un received an 'excellent' letter from US President Donald Trump, the North Korean news agency reported on Sunday.

The letter comes after a failed nuclear summit in February where Washington and Pyongyang were unable to agree on what North Korea would concede in exchange for the removal of international economic sanctions.

The North's official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) reported Mr Kim "said with satisfaction that the letter is of excellent content".

Mr Trump's "political judging faculty and extraordinary courage" prompted Mr Kim to "seriously contemplate" the letter, KCNA said, although its contents were not revealed.

Mr Kim initiated nuclear negotiations with Washington after North Korea ran several provocative weapons tests in 2018, which resulted in a groundbreaking summit in Singapore on June 12 last year — the first-ever meeting between a sitting US president and a North Korean leader.

Mr Trump and Mr Kim signed a vague denuclearisation statement in Singapore, but negotiations crumbled when the two countries discussed specifics in a second set of talks in Vietnam in February 2019.

The US is requiring North Korea to completely abandon its nuclear weapons development before economic sanctions are lifted. But Pyongyang hoped for a slow transition where steps towards denuclearisation would be matched by a relaxation of sanctions.

Mr Kim has blamed the US for the deadlock, and he gave Washington until the end of the year to salvage the talks by proposing mutually-acceptable terms. In a show of seriousness, the North began testing new tactical guided weapons in April.

Even in the face of failed negotiations, South Korea's presidential Blue House says Mr Trump's letter is a positive sign for the denuclearisation of the Korean peninsula.

"The government views it as positive in that the momentum of dialogue between the North and the US is being maintained," the Blue House said.

This isn't the first letter exchanged between the two leaders.

After the summit in Singapore, then White House spokesperson Sarah Sanders said Mr Trump and Mr Kim exchanged letters on their shared commitment to the North's denuclearisation.

Just last week, Mr Trump told Time magazine Mr Kim sent him a card celebrating his seventy-third birthday.

Updated: June 23, 2019 02:38 PM

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