Wed, Sep 12, 2018 - Page 7 News List

Kim wants second meeting with Trump

LETTER:Sarah Huckabee Sanders said the missive showed North Korea’s commitment to denuclarization and the White House was looking at scheduling another get-together

AFP, WASHINGTON

US President Donald Trump has received a “very positive” letter from North Korean leader Kim Jong-un seeking a follow-up meeting after their summit in Singapore, the White House said.

“It was a very warm, very positive letter,” White House spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders said, adding that the message showed Pyongyang’s “continued commitment to focus on denuclearization” on the Korean Peninsula.

“The primary purpose of the letter was to schedule another meeting with the president, which we are open to and are already in the process of coordinating,” she said on Monday at the first White House news briefing in nearly three weeks.

The letter was “further evidence of progress” in Washington’s relationship with Pyongyang, she said.

Trump and Kim’s summit in Singapore in June raised prospects of a breakthrough on curtailing North Korea’s nuclear program.

South Korean President Moon Jae-in, who brokered the June meeting, vowed to continue playing the role of a mediator to facilitate dialogue between Trump and Kim.

“The complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula is an issue that should fundamentally be resolved between the US and North Korea through negotiation,” Moon told a Cabinet meeting yesterday.

“A big vision and a bold decision between the leaders of North Korea and the US are needed again in order to advance to a higher level in discarding Pyongyang’s existing nuclear weapons,” he added.

Moon is to fly to Pyongyang next week for his third meeting with Kim this year.

Despite follow-on negotiations on denuclearizing the peninsula hitting a snag leading to US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo canceling a planned trip to the North late last month, the new letter showed signs that the discussions remain alive after weeks of apparent deadlock.

“We think it’s important and we’re glad that we’re making progress,” Sanders said, adding that Trump deserves the “credit” for bringing the two parties to the table.

“At the end of the day, ultimately, it’s always going to be best when you can have the two leaders sit down,” she added.

The White House has pointed to a series of accomplishments in recent months, including a release of US hostages, the repatriation of war remains believed to be of US service members and a pause in North Korea’s missile and nuclear tests, to suggest progress between the foes.

US special envoy for North Korea Stephen Biegun stressed the importance of maintaining the momentum of dialogue with Pyongyang and said the back-to-back summits created “a tremendous opportunity.”

In a meeting with his South Korean counterpart Lee Do-hoon in Seoul, Biegun called the current diplomatic process the beginning, adding: “So what we need to do is to finish the job.”

Sanders was asked whether the next Trump-Kim meeting would take place in Washington, but she declined, saying: “We’ll let you know when we have further details.”

The letter’s arrival was confirmed as Trump’s top security advisor said the White House was looking to North Korea for next steps.

“We’re still waiting for them. The possibility of another meeting between the two presidents obviously exists,” US National Security Advisor John Bolton said on Monday in a speech to the Federalist Society in Washington.

“But President Trump can’t make the North Koreans walk through the door he’s holding open. They are the ones that have to take the steps to denuclearize. And that’s what we are waiting for,” Bolton said.

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