Kim asks Trump for an­other meet­ing in ‘very warm’ let­ter

Financial Chronicle - - FRONT PAGE - HYONHEE SHIN & STEVE HOL­LAND

US Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump re­ceived a “very warm, very pos­i­tive” let­ter from North Korean leader Kim Jong Un ask­ing for a sec­ond meet­ing and the White House is look­ing at sched­ul­ing one, White House spokes­woman Sarah San­ders said on Mon­day.

The two coun­tries have been dis­cussing North Korea’s nu­clear pro­grammes since their lead­ers met in Sin­ga­pore in June, although that sum­mit’s out­come was crit­i­cised for be­ing short on con­crete de­tails about how and whether Kim is will­ing to give up weapons that threaten the United States.

The likely tim­ing of a sec­ond Trump-Kim meet­ing was un­clear.

South Korea’s Pres­i­dent Moon Jae-in is sched­uled to have his third sum­mit with Kim next week in Py­ongyang, and his gov­ern­ment had pushed for a three-way sum­mit in­volv­ing Trump, with the aim of agree­ing a joint dec­la­ra­tion to end the 1950-53 Korean War.

The con­flict ended with an ar­mistice, not a peace treaty, leav­ing the US-led United Na­tions forces in­clud­ing South Korea tech­ni­cally still at war with North Korea.

While South Korea had hoped an ac­cord for­mally end­ing the con­flict could have been un­veiled on the side­lines of the UN Gen­eral Assem­bly later this month, Moon’s se­cu­rity chief Chung Eui-yong said last week, with­out elab­o­rat­ing, that the nec­es­sary con­di­tions for a three-way meet­ing were miss­ing.

Trump’s Na­tional Se­cu­rity Ad­viser John Bolton has also said he did not be­lieve Kim would at­tend such a gath­er­ing.

Hopes of progress were re­vived how­ever af­ter Trump told re­porters on Fri­day that a per­sonal let­ter from Kim was on the way.

“It was a very warm, very pos­i­tive let­ter,” San­ders said at Mon­day’s brief­ing.

“The pri­mary pur­pose of the let­ter was to re­quest and look to sched­ule an­other meet­ing with the pres­i­dent which we are open to and are al­ready in the process of co­or­di­nat­ing that,” she said.

San­ders told re­porters the let­ter ex­hib­ited “a con­tin­ued com­mit­ment to fo­cus on de­nu­cle­ari­sa­tion of the penin­sula.” She said a mil­i­tary pa­rade in Py­ongyang on Sun­day was “a sign of good faith” be­cause it did not fea­ture any lon­grange mis­siles.

In South Korea, of­fi­cials nur­tured hope that next week’s in­ter-Korean sum­mit could pro­vide re­newed mo­men­tum to nu­clear ne­go­ti­a­tions, af­ter last month’s set­back when Trump can­celled a visit to Py­ongyang by Sec­re­tary of State Mike Pom­peo due to a lack of progress.

South Korea’s Pres­i­dent Moon is ex­pected to present some pro­posal to Kim sug­gest­ing phased steps to­ward de­nu­cle­ari­sa­tion and US se­cu­rity guar­an­tees in­clud­ing an of­fi­cial end to the Korean War. Moon could then dis­cuss the idea when he meets Trump dur­ing the UN Gen­eral Assem­bly meet­ing in New York later this month, South Korean of­fi­cials said.

Trump asked Moon to act as “chief ne­go­tia­tor” be­tween Washington and Py­ongyang dur­ing their phone call last week, Moon’s spokesman Kim Eui-kyeom told re­porters.

“In or­der for us to move to­ward the next level of dis­man­tling North Korea’s ex­ist­ing nu­clear weapons, the lead­ers of North Korea and the United States once again must have big ideas and take bold de­ci­sions,” Moon told a cabinet meet­ing on Tues­day.

File photo: US Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump, right, and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un par­tic­i­pate in a sign­ing cer­e­mony dur­ing a meet­ing on Sen­tosa Is­land in Sin­ga­pore

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