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(LEAD) N. Korea denies sending letter to Trump recently

North Korea 22:44 April 19, 2020

(ATTN: UPDATES with English-language statement; ADDS details throughout, photo)
By Lee Minji

SEOUL, April 19 (Yonhap) -- North Korea on Sunday denied any recent correspondence with U.S. President Donald Trump, less than a day after Trump said he received a "nice note" from leader Kim Jong-un.

Trump made the remark during a daily coronavirus briefing on Saturday, insisting that his relationship with the North's leader remains good.

But the North rejected Trump's claim.

"He could have referred to the personal letters that had been exchanged in the past, we are not sure. But there was no letter addressed recently to the U.S. president by the supreme leadership of the DPRK," said the chief of the foreign service news department at the North's foreign ministry.

"We are about to look into the matter to see if the U.S. leadership seeks anything in feeding the ungrounded story into the media," the official said in a statement carried by the official Korean Central News Agency.

The official also warned against talking lightly about relations between the two leaders, saying "relations between the top leaders of the DPRK and the U.S. are not an issue to be taken up just for diversion nor it should be misused for meeting selfish purposes."

DPRK is the acronym for North Korea's office name, the Democratic People's Republic of Korea.

This UPI photo shows U.S. President Donald Trump at a White House press briefing on the coronavirus pandemic on April 18, 2020. (Yonhap)

The two countries have failed to make progress in denuclearization negotiations since a February 2019 summit between Trump and Kim ended without a deal.

But the leaders have maintained personal correspondence.

In January, Trump sent a congratulatory message to Kim for his birthday.

Last month, Kim Yo-jong -- the North Korean leader's younger sister and the first vice department director of the Central Committee of the North's Workers' Party -- also said Trump had sent a letter to Kim, offering help on containing the virus pandemic.

Earlier Sunday, an official at South Korea's presidential office Cheong Wa Dae also said that Trump had mentioned the "nice note" when he spoke by phone with President Moon Jae-in on Saturday.

The official did not elaborate, saying it's not appropriate for Cheong Wa Dae to do so.

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