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Trump to receive sealed letter from Kim Jong-un as US-North Korea summit hangs in the balance

The message will be personally delivered to Washington by North Korean general Kim Yong Chol

Peter Stubley
Sunday 03 June 2018 08:27 BST
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo: 'Nothing short of tragic' if Trump-Kim summit doesn't happen

Donald Trump is set to receive a sealed, hand-delivered letter from Kim Jong-un on Friday as negotiations continue over the proposed summit.

The North Korean leader is expected to personally reply to the US president's own letter calling off the meeting scheduled for June 12.

Mr Trump's message on 24 May complained about the regime's "tremendous anger and open hostility" after its spokesman called vice-president Mike Pence a "political dummy".

Mr Kim's reply is being taken to Washington by North Korea's vice chairman Kim Yong Chol, who on Thursday dined on steak, pureed corn and cheese with secretary of state Mike Pompeo in New York.

"I believe they'll be coming down to Washington on Friday and a letter is going to be delivered to me from Kim Jong-un," Mr Trump said on Thursday.

"So I look forward to seeing what's in the letter, but it's very important to them."

The president said he did not know what was in the letter but added: "I think it will be very positive."

Mr Trump's deputy press secretary Hogan Gidley was unable to confirm whether the president would make Mr Kim's letter public.

"I’m not going to guess on what he’s going to do with the letter," he told reporters on board Air Force One.

Critics have been quick to speculate on its contents, with one Twitter user warning Mr Trump to "have that letter checked before you open it", adding: "Not kidding Kim Jong-un poisoned his half brother."

Mr Kim yesterday repeated that his "will for denuclearisation of the Korean peninsula still remains unchanged and consistent", according to the state news agency's report of the leader's meeting with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov.

"He hoped that the DPRK-US relations and the denuclearisation of the Korean peninsula will be solved on a stage-by-stage basis by founding a solution to meet the interests of each other through a new method in a new era and under a new situation and the solution of the issues will progress through effective and constructive dialogue and negotiation," it added.

The North Korean leader criticised his officials for "outdated diplomacy" after Mr Trump cancelled the summit, according to a report on the online newspaper Daily NK, which is based in South Korea.

He is said to have called on his staff to "take the leadership role in a sincere and practical manner in negotiations for the summit that are in line with the demands of this current, rapidly changing period."

However Mr Kim also described his diplomatic strategy as "protecting our nuclear power, the bastion of our socialist state, and making the Americans wave the white flag."

North Korea declared in April that it will halt all nuclear and intercontinental missile tests and last week demolished its nuclear site at Punggye-riu.

Mr Trump hopes to force Mr Kim to give up his nuclear weapons at the summit, but admitted it might take more than one meeting.

"I'd like to see it done in one meeting," he said. "Often times that's not the way deals work. But it'll get done at some point."

Mr Pompeo also told reporters: “We made real progress in last 72 hours. We think there can be real progress made by the two of them meeting. I am confident we are moving in the right direction.

“Our two countries face a pivotal moment in our relationship in which it would be nothing short of tragic to let this opportunity go to waste."

Kim Yong Chol is the highest-ranking North Korean official to visit the US in 18 years and was allowed into the country despite being on a sanctions list.

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