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North Korea

Donald Trump says he and North Korea’s Kim Jong-un ‘fell in love’

‘He wrote me beautiful letters. And they’re great letters. We fell in love’

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 30 September, 2018, 11:09am
UPDATED : Sunday, 30 September, 2018, 9:26pm

US President Donald Trump said he and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un “fell in love” over the course of their on-again off-again detente, hours after Pyongyang’s top diplomat said there was “no way” the country would disarm under current conditions.

“He wrote me beautiful letters,” Trump said of Kim Saturday during a rally in Wheeling, West Virginia. “And they’re great letters. We fell in love.”

Trump has made repeated efforts to flatter Kim, even as talks aimed at ending Pyongyang’s nuclear programme sputtered following the two leaders’ landmark June summit in Singapore.

In talks with South Korean President Moon Jae-in in Pyongyang earlier this month, Kim pledged to permanently dismantle his country’s major nuclear complex if the United States takes reciprocal actions.

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Speaking at the United Nations General Assembly earlier on Saturday, North Korea’s top diplomat said the nation won’t dismantle its nuclear weapons until it has “sufficient trust” in the US, and called on the Trump administration to drop its “coercive methods” such as sanctions.

The remarks by North Korea Foreign Minister Ri Yong-ho underscored lingering friction between the nations, even as they plan a second Trump-Kim meeting.

Earlier last week, US Secretary of State Michael Pompeo said he had a “very positive meeting” with Ri, and agreed to visit North Korea next month to prepare for another summit.

At the UN, North Korea repeated its request to the US to declare the end of the 1950-1953 Korean war, which ended with a ceasefire but without a peace treaty.

Sceptics of Kim’s motivations worry that the US might withdraw troops from South Korea and that UN sanctions could be lifted if the war is declared over.

North and South Korea see declaring the end of the war as a key to building trust between the US and North Korea.

The North Korean foreign minister contrasted Pyongyang’s relations with Washington with the rapid progress made in inter-Korean relations through three summits this year, most recently September 18-20.

“The recent dramatic improvement of the North-South relations and the atmosphere of cooperation clearly show how decisive the role of trust-building can be,” he said.

“If the party to this issue of denuclearisation were South Korea and not the US the denuclearisation of the Korean Peninsula would not have come to such a deadlock.”

Despite the muscular tone, Ri’s high-profile speech was downright mild and balanced compared to the florid vows of nuclear strikes and claims of US perfidiousness that have been typical fare from the country’s propaganda services.

This was decidedly so during an exchange of threats between Washington and Pyongyang that accompanied a run of increasingly powerful weapons tests last year that put the North on the brink of its claim to be a full-fledged nuclear power, and had some fearing war.

Bloomberg, Associated Press, Kyodo