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(3rd LD) N.K. leader receives personal letter from Trump: KCNA

All Headlines 22:55 June 23, 2019

(ATTN: UPDATES with statement by White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders in paras 4-5; Minor edits)

SEOUL, June 23 (Yonhap) -- North Korean leader Kim Jong-un has received a personal letter with "excellent" and "interesting" content from U.S. President Donald Trump, Pyongyang's state media said Sunday, a move that could raise hopes for a resumption of stalled denuclearization talks.

"After reading the letter, the Supreme Leader of the Party, the state and the armed forces said with satisfaction that the letter is of excellent content," the Korean Central News Agency said, referring to Kim.

"Appreciating the political judging faculty and extraordinary courage of President Trump, Kim Jong-un said that he would seriously contemplate the interesting content," it added.

In Washington, White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders confirmed that Trump sent a letter to Kim.

"A letter was sent by President Trump, and correspondence between the two leaders has been ongoing," Sanders said in a brief statement.

Neither the KCNA nor Sanders disclosed the content of the letter.

The letter appears to be in answer to a letter Kim sent to Trump recently in time for the anniversary of their first-ever summit in Singapore last June.

Trump described Kim's letter as "beautiful" and "very warm," He also emphasized that the relationship between them remains strong and that "something will happen that's going to be very positive."

The exchange of correspondence between the leaders renewed hopes for a resumption of denuclearization talks which have stalled since the breakdown of their second summit in February.

The summit collapsed as Pyongyang wanted sanctions relief as a corresponding measure in exchange for dismantling its Yongbyon nuclear complex, while Washington insisted that sanctions should remain in place until the North completely gives up its nuclear weapons program.

South Korea's presidential office said the exchange of letters between the leaders of North Korea and the United States would help smooth out the overall dialogue process.

"The government assesses the exchange of personal letters between the leaders of the North and the U.S. positively in terms of maintaining the momentum of their dialogue," Cheong Wa Dae spokesperson Ko Min-jung said in a statement.

Kim's summit with Chinese President Xi Jinping last week has further raised hopes that he could come out for talks again after a long lull.

In their summit in Pyongyang on Thursday, Kim said he will exercise "patience" in efforts to resolve the Korean Peninsula issue, while Xi said he will help address the North's security concerns.

This photo released by the Korean Central News Agency on June 22, 2019, shows Chairman Kim Jong-un (L) walking with Chinese President Xi Jinping at the Kumsusan Guesthouse in Pyongyang. (For Use Only in the Republic of Korea. No Redistribution) (Yonhap)

Publishing an article on the recent North Korea visit by Xi, Choson Sinbo, a pro-North Korean newspaper based in Japan, said the Beijing-Pyongyang summit was meant to press Trump to make "a resolute decision" for the third North Korea-U.S. summit.

"China is supporting (the option) of addressing North Korea's reasonable interests through its talks with the United States," the newspaper said in an article on Sunday.

The newspaper also said North Korea's interests dovetail with China's and that Xi's visit to Pyongyang illustrates "their common front is formed against Washington," adding that Trump may find it difficult to take a unilateral, unfavorable stance in its discussions with China over Korean Peninsula issues during the upcoming G-20 Osaka summit slated for June 28-29.

kokobj@yna.co.kr
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