Donald Trump

Donald Trump expecting ‘positive’ letter from North Korea’s Kim Jong-un soon

Trump tells reporters aboard Air Force One that ‘a letter is being delivered’ as denuclearisation negotiations have stalled

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 08 September, 2018, 1:56am
UPDATED : Saturday, 08 September, 2018, 9:43pm

US President Donald Trump said on Friday that he was expecting a “positive” personal letter from North Korea’s leader Kim Jong-un.

“A letter is being delivered to me, a personal letter from Kim Jong-un to me,” Trump told reporters on Air Force One en route to a fundraiser in Fargo, North Dakota.

The letter “was handed at the border yesterday,” he added, without specifying which border that would be. Trump said that “I think it’s going to be a positive letter” and that “it’s being brought in by [US Secretary of State] Mike Pompeo”.

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Word of a new letter from Kim came as US negotiations with North Korea over denuclearisation have stalled.

Late last month, Trump called off a planned trip by Pompeo to Pyongyang; the president blamed China on Twitter for holding back the negotiation process.

Xi Jinping to send right-hand man Li Zhanshu to North Korea

The letter from Kim would coincide with a high-level visit to Pyongyang scheduled for Saturday by Li Zhanshu – Chinese President Xi Jinping’s right-hand man and the third-ranking official in the ruling Communist Party’s Politburo Standing Committee – for events marking the 70th anniversary of North Korea’s founding, China’s state-run CCTV reported.

Trump and Kim have traded a series of letters as they negotiate North Korea’s nuclear weapon programme, as well as messages over social media.

In early June, a large letter delivered to Trump at the White House by the highest-ranking North Korean delegation to visit there revived plans for a summit meeting between Kim and Trump in Singapore, which was held on June 12.

And in early August, after follow-up negotiations led by Pompeo had stalled and concerns grew about how committed North Korea was to denuclearising, the White House said that Trump had received a new letter from Kim.

Kim agrees to denuclearise ‘by end of Trump’s term’, sets Korean summit

That letter followed up on their Singapore summit, days after the remains of more than 50 American service members killed in the Korean war were repatriated.

On Thursday, Trump said on Twitter that the North Korean leader had sent him a letter that “proclaims ‘unwavering faith in President Trump’”. In the tweet, Trump thanked the leader and said that “we will get it done together”.

Also on Thursday, South Korean officials reported that Kim wanted to complete denuclearisation of the Korean peninsula by the end of Trump’s term as president.

Seoul officials made the statement as they announced a third meeting between Kim and South Korean President Moon Jae-in, this time in Pyongyang, from September 18-20.

US State Department representatives did not immediately respond to an emailed request for comment about the details of the letter.

China slams ‘absurd logic’ after Trump says it blocks denuclearisation

Harry Kazianis, the director of defence studies at the Washington-based Centre for the National Interest, told the South China Morning Post that the letter could be about a proposal Kim pitched to Trump about signing an end-of-war declaration on the Korean peninsula.

“While it’s tough to predict what could be in the letter, considering how talks between the Washington and Pyongyang have gone off track,” Kazianis said, “I would assume Kim might have a new proposal to get things moving forward again.”

“Such an arrangement would see America, China, South and North Korea and the UN secretary general gather to sign an end of war declaration, formally putting to rest the Korean war,” Kazianis said.

In exchange, he suggested, “North Korea would at that time hand over a listing of its nuclear weapons and missiles”.