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23 March 2020, 14:54

Trump sends letter to Kim, offers cooperation

US President Donald Trump (R) and DPRK leader Kim Jong Un (L). Photo: chinadaily.com.cn
US President Donald Trump (R) and DPRK leader Kim Jong Un (L). Photo: chinadaily.com.cn

PYONGYANG, 23 March (BelTA - China Daily)-US President Donald Trump has sent a letter to Kim Jong-un, Democratic People's Republic of Korea's top leader, detailing a plan to develop ties, the Korean Central News Agency reported on Sunday, citing Kim Jong-un's sister Kim Yo-jong.

"In the letter, he (Trump) … explained his plan to propel the relations between the DPRK and the United States and expressed his intent to render cooperation in the anti-epidemic work," an apparent reference to the novel coronavirus pandemic, Kim Yo-jong, who is a senior official of the DPRK's ruling Workers' Party of Korea, said in the statement reported by KCNA.

While the letter reflects "excellent" ties between the two leaders, Kim Yo-jong warned that broader relations between their two nations are different. Their good personal relationship is not enough, as a hiatus in disarmament talks drags on, she said.

"We try to hope for the day when the relations between the two countries would be as good as the ones between the two top leaders, but it has to be left to time and be watched whether it can actually happen."

A senior official in Washington confirmed that Trump had sent a letter to Kim, "which is consistent with his efforts to engage global leaders during the ongoing pandemic", The Associated Press reported.

"The President looks forward to continued communications with Chairman Kim", the official said.

The statement by Kim Yo-jong came a day after reports said that the DPRK had fired what appeared to be two projectiles off its east coast on Saturday, the latest such action it has taken this year.

Kim and Trump have met three times and exchanged letters since 2018.

But their diplomacy has largely come to a standstill since the breakdown of their second summit in Vietnam in February last year over US sanctions relief and what the DPRK would be willing to give up in return.

Sanctions as difficulties

Pyongyang is currently under multiple sets of United Nations and US sanctions over its weapons programs.

In the report, Kim Yo-jong praised Trump's "efforts to keep the good relations he had with our Chairman by sending a personal letter again at a time like now when big difficulties and challenges lie in the way of developing the bilateral relations".

But she said "nobody knows how much the personal relations would change and lead the prospective relations between the two countries, and it is not something good to make hasty conclusions or be optimistic about."

Kim Yo-jong said bilateral dialogue "would be thinkable only when the equilibrium is kept dynamically and morally, and justice ensured between the two countries, not merely by the personal letter between the two leaders."

Pyongyang set Washington an end-2019 deadline to offer fresh concessions, and in late December Kim Jong-un declared that the DPRK no longer considered itself bound by its moratoriums on nuclear and intercontinental ballistic missile tests.

On Saturday Kim observed "the demonstration fire of (a) tactical guided weapon", to demonstrate the characteristics "and power of a new weapon system to be delivered" to army units, KCNA reported on Sunday.

In addition, Kim spoke of "tactical and strategic weapon systems in the development stage", the report said.

After the latest test, a US State Department official reiterated Washington's call on Pyongyang "to avoid provocations, abide by obligations under UN Security Council Resolutions, and return to sustained and substantive negotiations to do its part to achieve complete denuclearization".

The UN Security Council also said recently that it would make humanitarian exemptions to sanctions on the DPRK to help it fight the novel coronavirus.

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