Kim Jong Un keeps the faith in Trump amid nuclear negotiations
The North Korean leader has said he wants an end to hostilities with the US by the end of the president’s first term.
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un still has faith in US president Donald Trump’s commitment to ending their nations’ hostile relations, South Korean officials said.
However, Mr Kim is also said to be frustrated by questions about his willingness to denuclearise and wants his “goodwill measures” to be met in kind.
The North Korean leader’s comments, including his commitment to a nuclear-free Korean Peninsula and the suspension of all future long-range missile tests, were relayed by top South Korean security officials returning from meeting him in Pyongyang.
Even in their indirect form, each statement will be closely examined for clues about Mr Kim’s mindset as North Korea and the US move forward with efforts to resolve a nuclear stand-off that just a year ago many feared could lead to war.
Some of his reported comments were reiterations of past stances, but there will be keen interest in whether they push negotiators back to diplomacy after recriminations that followed the two leaders’ June summit.
Since then, neither side has seemed willing to make a substantive move, leading to scepticism over Mr Trump’s claims that Mr Kim will really dismantle his nuclear weapons programme.
Recent satellite photos have indicated Mr Kim’s weapons factories are still operating to produce fissile materials to make nuclear weapons.
South Korean officials said they forwarded a message from the US leader to Mr Kim during their meeting and would send a separate message from Mr Kim to Mr Trump later on Thursday. The officials would not discuss the content of the messages.
Chung Eui-yong, Mr Moon’s national security adviser and the head of the South Korean delegation to Pyongyang, said Mr Kim told him that he still had faith in Mr Trump despite diplomatic setbacks.
He said the North Korean leader emphasised that he has not once talked negatively about Mr Trump to anyone, including his closest advisers.
The US president responded by tweeting: “Kim Jong Un of North Korea proclaims ‘unwavering faith in President Trump.’ Thank you to Chairman Kim. We will get it done together!”
Mr Chung reported that Mr Kim said he wishes for North Korea and the US to put an end to their seven decades of hostile relations before the end of Mr Trump’s first term.
The North Korean leader told Mr Chung that work to dismantle the only missile engine test site in North Korea “means a complete suspension of future long-range ballistic missile tests”.
Mr Kim said he would take “more active” measures toward denuclearisation if his moves are met with corresponding goodwill measures.