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Kim’s letter to Trump sparks hopes for dialogue

US President Donald Trump’s comments regarding a personal letter from North Korean leader Kim Jong-un are fanning speculations that US-North Korea dialogue may resume.

On Tuesday, Trump revealed that he had received a letter from Kim the previous day and that he expects positive developments between the two countries. 

US President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un at their first summit in Singapore on June 12, 2018. Yonhap
US President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un at their first summit in Singapore on June 12, 2018. Yonhap

“I just received a beautiful letter from Kim Jong-un,” Trump said, describing the letter as “very personal, very warm, very nice.”

“I think that something will happen that’s going to be very positive,” he added, reiterating his view that North Korea has “tremendous potential.”

Touting his relationship with Kim, he said the letter confirmed they have a “very good relationship.”

Trump again downplayed North Korea’s firing of short-range projectiles last month, saying Kim “kept his word to me.”

He left open the possibility of meeting Kim for the third time. “Well, it could happen, but I want to bring it further down the line,” he said.

Trump also denied knowledge of news reports that the North Korean leader’s assassinated half brother Kim Jong-nam was a source for the Central Intelligence Agency.

“I know this, that the relationship is such that that wouldn’t happen under my auspices, but I don’t know about that. Nobody knows,” he said.

Trump’s comment on another summit with Kim echoed US national security adviser John Bolton’s statement earlier in the day at a Wall Street Journal conference.

“Really, Kim Jong-un holds the key,” Bolton said, adding that a third summit is “entirely possible.”

“We’re ready when they are. So it’s anytime that they want to schedule it.”

Meanwhile, news of Kim’s letter to Trump has fueled positive speculation in Seoul, with the ruling Democratic Party of Korea welcoming the news and expressing hopes for a third US-North Korea summit.

Seoul’s presidential office declined to comment on issues related to the letter, saying only that it was aware of its existence.

South Korea’s National Intelligence Service also denied reports of its involvement in delivering the letter to Trump.

A Korean news agency had reported that NIS Director Suh Hoon is likely to have delivered the letter, citing an unnamed diplomatic source who claimed that Suh is currently in the US and that the spy chief was recently in contact with North Korea.

President Moon Jae-in’s special adviser Moon Chung-in described the development as “very encouraging.”

“Taking into account the fact that there were no talks or contact, I think new possibilities between the US and North Korea may be opening up,” Moon Chung-in said in a keynote speech at a forum in Seoul, adding that he was speaking as an academic rather than in his capacity as a presidential adviser.

Moon Chung-in was referring to the lack of engagement between Pyongyang and Washington since their summit in Hanoi ended without an agreement.

“There were difficulties since the Hanoi setback, but (I) predict that there could be progress regarding South Korea-US, inter-Korean, North Korea-US (communications) today or tomorrow,” he said.

The outspoken Yonsei University professor went on to say the US was taking an unrealistic approach in dealing with the North.

“The US position of no sanctions relief until complete denuclearization is very unrealistic,” he said.

According to the professor, the US should ease some sanctions to facilitate reform in North Korea, but it should apply stronger sanctions if Pyongyang becomes uncooperative.

He added that North Korea views sanctions as “the most concrete symbol of the US’ hostile intentions and actions against North Korea,” and that the US has the option of allowing inter-Korean economic cooperation in return for the North’s dismantlement of missile facilities.

Moon Chung-in’s comments on sanctions, however, are closer to North Korea’s position than that of South Korea. The South Korean government has repeatedly stressed that its stance on North Korea is aligned with that of the US, and that it is working closely with the international community on all related matters, including the enforcement of sanctions.

On Wednesday, North Korean propaganda website Uriminzokkiri blamed the US for the breakdown of the Hanoi summit and called for “corresponding measures” from the US.

The website claimed that Pyongyang has taken “important and meaningful” steps in accordance with the US-North Korea agreement from the Singapore summit, but the US has shown no changes and made impossible demands.

By Choi He-suk (