President Donald Trump said he was expecting a new letter from North Korea supreme leader Kim Jong Un amid a stall in their nuclear negotiations.
Trump said the letter would be sent to him through Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and would contain “a very positive statement what he said about me and also what he said about he wants to denuclearize during the Trump administration,” according to the Associated Press.
It would be the first direct correspondence between the two since the Republican leader canceled his top diplomat’s planned visit to Pyongyang last month. Announcing plans to suspend that trip, Trump blamed what he called a slow pace to Kim’s promise to denuclearize in exchange for peace and a lifting of sanctions, as well as an ongoing trade conflict with China.
Though Trump criticized the progress of negotiations last month, he concluded his tweet: “I would like to send my warmest regards and respect to Chairman Kim. I look forward to seeing him soon!”
On Thursday, a high-level South Korean delegation returning from direct talks with Kim in Pyongyang said that the North Korean ruler aimed to denuclearize completely within Trump’s first term and South Korea’s national security council chief Chung Eui-yong said the young ruler “particularly emphasized that he has never said anything negative about President Trump,” according to Reuters. Chung said Kim expressed “frustration over the doubt raised by some parts of the international community about his willingness to denuclearize, and asked us to convey his message to the United States.”
That same day, Trump tweeted his appreciation for what Kim said: “Kim Jong Un of North Korea proclaims ‘unwavering faith in President Trump.’ Thank you to Chairman Kim. We will get it done together!”
Trump and Kim have entered uncharted territory in terms of their relationship on the backdrop of decades of hostility between the U.S. and North Korea. After the Korean peninsula was split by Cold War powers the U.S. and the Soviet Union, the two halves went to war with communist China backing North Korea and the U.S. supporting South Korea.
Two generations of the Kim dynasty and a dozen U.S. administrations later, North Korea has developed nuclear weapons and missiles capable of delivering them across the globe, arguing this to be a necessary defense against Washington’s hostility. Trump has doubled down on economic sanctions in a “maximum pressure” campaign and swapped threats with North Korea throughout last year, but made history in June when he became the first sitting U.S. president to meet with a North Korean supreme leader.
Reports have since emerged suggesting a slowed down pace for denuclearization efforts, raising concern among U.S. officials skeptical of North Korea’s commitment to the deal. South Korea has moved forward with the unprecedented peace effort anyway, prioritizing building diplomatic ties and Kim mentioned during his meeting with South Korean officials that “dramatic moments and good agreements which no one could ever think of were achieved this year.”
South Korean President Moon Jae-in has met with Kim in two rare inter-Korean summits this year and is set to meet both Kim and Trump in separate visits later this month.