On Thursday, Kim Jong Un received a letter from U.S. President Donald J. Trump ahead of an anticipated summit meeting between the two leaders scheduled for late February.
The letter was delivered to Kim by Kim Yong Chol, the lead North Korean negotiator with the United States since April 2018. Kim Yong Chol returned from a trip to Washington where he met with Trump at the White House.
According to North Korean state media, Kim Jong Un expressed “great satisfaction” at receiving Trump’s letter.
Kim “spoke highly of President Trump for expressing his unusual determination and will for the settlement of the issue with a great interest in the second DPRK-U.S. summit,” according to a report by the Korean Central News Agency.
The report added that Kim had “set forth tasks and orientation for making good technical preparations for the second DPRK-U.S. summit.”
The Korean Central News Agency released a photograph of Kim Jong Un seated in his office holding the letter from Trump. The letter appeared to be one page long and was previously seen on Trump’s desk in a photo released by the White House of Kim Yong Chol’s Oval Office meeting with Trump.
The directive comes ahead of anticipated working-level talks between the two sides for the first time since Kim’s meeting last year with Trump in Singapore on June 12.
Working-level talks will allow both sides to discuss the technical aspects of further denuclearization concessions from North Korea — a top U.S. priority — as well as possible economic, diplomatic, and military concessions that Washington might give Pyongyang.
At his New Year’s Day address this year, Kim Jong Un made clear that for further diplomatic progress, the United States would have to recognize North Korea’s denuclearization measures in 2018 and offer “corresponding” concessions.
Last year, North Korea announced a self-imposed moratorium on the testing of intercontinental-range ballistic missiles, destroyed its sole nuclear test site, and dismantled a test stand for ballistic missile engines. North Korea last conducted a ballistic missile test in November 2017.
Since the summit between Trump and Kim last June, North Korea and the United States have made little diplomatic progress. After a trip to Pyongyang in October by U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, North Korea agreed to allow international experts to verify the dismantlement of the Punggye-ri nuclear test site — the location of all six of its nuclear tests.
The two sides have yet to announce a location for the second summit between the two leaders, but recent reports have suggested that Hanoi, the Vietnamese capital, is a likely venue.