On Tuesday afternoon, U.S. President Donald J. Trump confirmed to reporters that he had received a letter from North Korean leader Kim Jong Un on Monday. The letter marks the first known communication between the leaders since the failed summit between them in Hanoi, Vietnam, and the end of February.
Trump described the letter he received as “beautiful” and “very warm.” He underscored the positive relationship between him and Kim, saying that they had a “very good relationship together.”
The U.S. president hinted at the possibility of a third summit between him and Kim. “I think something will happen,” he said. In April, Kim Jong Un, in a public address to the Korean Workers’ Party, said that a new summit could only happen after the U.S. took a “bold decision” regarding its policy toward North Korea.
In Hanoi, the sticking point between the two sides was the issue of a partial, step-by-step deal over the North’s nuclear program — which Kim Jong Un preferred — to a complete deal that would have seen all the sanctions on North Korea lifted for its total disarmament. Washington preferred the latter and the summit collapsed after the two sides were unable to compromise.
On Tuesday, Trump also discussed the outcomes of the diplomatic process with North Korea that began last year. He touted the retrieval of three Americans that were imprisoned in North Korea last year and the recovery of the remains of American prisoners of war or personnel killed-in-action during the Korean War.
Kim’s letter to Trump appears to have been timed to coincide roughly with the one-year anniversary of the first meeting between the two leaders on June 12, 2018, in Singapore.
The Singapore Summit resulted in a joint U.S.-North Korea declaration with four objectives. The two sides agreed to work toward a new bilateral relationship between them and toward a peace regime on the Korean Peninsula.
Separately, the North Korean leader agreed to work “toward the complete denuclearization” of the Korean Peninsula. Finally, the two sides agreed to resume the recovery of American remains from North Korea.
Since the Hanoi summit, North Korea and the United States have not resumed a working-level process. Instead, North Korea, in early May, conducted its first missile launches after a more than 520 day pause.
Trump ignored the missile launches on Tuesday, saying that Kim had “kept his word” to him. In Hanoi, Trump said that Kim had told him we would not launch any missiles. North Korea’s self-stated moratorium on missile testing in April 2018, however, only applied to intercontinental-range ballistic missiles.
Trump also commented on Tuesday on a Wall Street Journal report published this week stating that Kim Jong Nam, Kim Jong Un’s half brother, was a CIA source. “I wouldn’t let that happen under my auspices,” Trump said he would have told the North Korean leader of the report.