|U.S. President Donald Trump speaks to reporters before departing for a trip to Iowa, on the South Lawn of the White House, Wednesday morning (KST), in Washington. AP-Yonhap|
President Moon says efforts for Korea peace process 'will never stop'
By Kim Yoo-chul
U.S. President Donald Trump said early Wednesday (KST) that he had received a "beautiful letter" from North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, and defended his relationship with the North's leader despite the collapse of the second U.S.-North Korea summit in February.
"I just received a beautiful letter from Kim Jong-un. I can't show you the letter, obviously, but it was a very personal, very warm, very nice letter. I appreciate it. We have a very good relationship together. In the meantime, he kept his word … that's very important. I think that something will happen that's gonna be very positive," Trump told reporters at the White House.
While declining to disclose the specific contents of the letter, Trump added he still hopes for his third summit with Kim to strike some kind of agreement over North Korea's nuclear weapons.
Trump also cited reports about Kim's assassinated half-brother Kim Jong-nam, who they said had been used as a CIA asset in North Korea. "I wouldn't let that happen under my auspices," he said.
The remark was interpreted as Trump's willingness to prevent the CIA from spying on Kim's regime.
The U.S. president also didn't hold back on his praise for the North. "North Korea has tremendous potential under Kim's leadership. He gets it. He totally gets it," Trump said.
Regarding a question over the "letter," Cheong Wa Dae chief press secretary Yoon Do-han told reporters the Moon administration was "already aware of the letter."
"Cheong Wa Dae knew that the letter was sent before Trump announcing it. But I won't tell you more about it," Yoon said, Wednesday afternoon.
A year ago, Trump and Kim signed an agreement in Singapore to end their hostility toward reach and to continue concerted efforts for a permanent peace on the Korean Peninsula. But the agreement was non-binding and also vaguely worded.
Several inter-Korean summits after the first Trump-Kim meeting has helped Korea reach a series of agreements on disarmament in the border area and easing military tension. But no real progress has been made. President Moon Jae-in brokered the talk process between Trump and Kim in having them sit down again in the Vietnamese capital city of Hanoi.
But their second meeting ended abruptly without an agreement after Trump didn't accept requests by Kim to lift some sanctions in return for the North's dismantling of some of its nuclear facilities. Since the breakdown, the peace process remains deadlocked as Washington and Pyongyang have sobered up.
Later, the South Korean leader flew to Washington for a brief summit with Trump to break the impasse. At that time, Trump told Moon Washington would support the South's plan to provide humanitarian aid to the North. Seoul's unification ministry donated $8 million to United Nations food agencies.
In Oslo, Norway, Wednesday evening, President Moon said his efforts to bring a lasting peace to the peninsula "will never stop."
"The South Korean government will go on for peace on the peninsula and we will definitely achieve it," President Moon said in a keynote speech at the University of Oslo. "A year ago, the heads of the United States and North Korea shook hands in Singapore and they agreed on achieving complete denuclearization of the peninsula and establishing a new U.S.-North Korea relationship. The agreements are in progress."
The South Korean leader stressed he's not worrying too much about the continued stalemate in nuclear diplomacy between Washington and Pyongyang.
"They just need more time to deeply and thoroughly understand each other. This is the necessary patience that would end to the hostility that has continued for 70 years. We don't need a new vision or declaration. What do we need is to trust and understand each other, which I believe is the cornerstone to keeping the momentum of denuclearization talks alive," President Moon told participants.
Since Hanoi, Pyongyang has accused Washington of acting in "bad faith" and given it until the end of the year to change its approach. But President Moon said Trump trusts Kim Jong-un and vice versa.