Thu. 8:41 a.m.: North Korea’s Kim has faith in Trump, frustrated at skeptics
SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — North Korean leader Kim Jong Un still has faith in President Donald Trump’s commitment to ending their nations’ hostile relations, but he’s frustrated by questions about his willingness to denuclearize and wants his “goodwill measures” to be met in kind, South Korean officials said today.
The trove of comments from Kim, including his commitment to a nuclear-free Korean Peninsula and to the suspension of all future long-range missile tests, were relayed by top South Korean security officials returning from meeting him in Pyongyang as well as the North’s propaganda specialists.
Even in their indirect form, each statement will be parsed for clues about Kim’s mindset as North Korea and the U.S. move forward with efforts to resolve a nuclear standoff 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 sharp interest in whether they push negotiators back to diplomacy after recriminations that followed Kim and Trump’s June summit.
Since then, neither side has seemed willing to make a substantive move, leading to skepticism over Trump’s claims that Kim will really dismantle his nuclear weapons program. Recent satellite photos have indicated Kim’s weapons factories were still operating to produce fissile materials to make nuclear weapons.
South Korean officials said they forwarded a message from Trump to Kim during their meeting and would send a separate message from Kim to Trump later today. The officials wouldn’t discuss the content of the messages.
Chung Eui-yong, Moon’s national security adviser and the head of the South Korean delegation to Pyongyang, said Kim told him that he still had faith in Trump despite diplomatic setbacks. He said Kim emphasized that he has not once talked negatively about Trump to anyone, including his closest advisers.
Chung reported that Kim said he wishes for North Korea and the U.S. to put an end to their seven decades of hostile relations before the end of Trump’s first term.
Kim told 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.” Kim said he’d take “more active” measures toward denuclearization if his moves are met with corresponding goodwill measures, Chung said.
Kim, however, expressed to Chung that he was frustrated by skepticism in the international community over his commitment to denuclearization.
“He said he’s pre-emptively taken steps necessary for denuclearization and wants to see these goodwill measures being met with goodwill measures,” Chung said.