Trump received Kim Jong Un letter seeking 2nd meet: WHouse

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WASHINGTON, Sept 11, 2018 (BSS/AFP) – US President Donald Trump has
received a “very positive” letter from North Korean leader Kim Jong Un
seeking a follow-up meeting after their historic summit in Singapore, the
White House said.

“It was a very warm, very positive letter,” White House spokeswoman Sarah
Sanders said, adding that the message showed Pyongyang’s “continued
commitment to focus on denuclearization” on the Korean Peninsula.

“The primary purpose of the letter was to schedule another meeting with the
president, which we are open to and are already in the process of
coordinating,” she said Monday at the first White House press briefing in
nearly three weeks.

Sanders added that the letter was “further evidence of progress” in
Washington’s relationship with Pyongyang.

Trump and Kim held a historic summit in Singapore in June that raised
prospects of a breakthrough on curtailing North Korea’s nuclear program.

South Korea’s dovish President Moon Jae-in, who brokered the June meeting,
vowed to continue playing the role of a mediator to facilitate dialogue
between Trump and Kim.

“The complete denuclearisation of the Korean peninsula is an issue that
should fundamentally be resolved between the US and North Korea through
negotiation,” Moon told a cabinet meeting on Tuesday.

– ‘Bold decision’ –

“A big vision and a bold decision between the leaders of North Korea and
the US are needed again in order to advance to a higher level in discarding
Pyongyang’s existing nuclear weapons,” he added.

Moon will fly to Pyongyang next week for his third meeting with Kim this
year.

Despite follow-on negotiations on denuclearizing the peninsula hitting a
snag leading to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo canceling a planned trip to
the North late last month, the new letter showed signs that the discussions
remain alive after weeks of apparent deadlock.

“We think it’s important and we’re glad that we’re making progress,”
Sanders said, adding that Trump deserves the “credit” for bringing the two
parties to the table.

“At the end of the day, ultimately, it’s always going to be best when you
can have the two leaders sit down,” she added.

The White House has pointed to a series of accomplishments in recent
months, including a release of US hostages, the repatriation of war remains
believed to be of US service members and a pause in North Korea’s missile and
nuclear tests, to suggest progress between the foes.

Stephen Biegun, the new US special envoy for North Korea, stressed the
importance of maintaining the momentum of dialogue with Pyongyang and said
the back-to-back summits created “a tremendous opportunity”.

In a meeting with his South Korean counterpart Lee Do-hoon in Seoul, Biegun
called the current diplomatic process the beginning, adding: “So what we need
to do is to finish the job.”

And on Sunday, North Korea refrained from displaying its intercontinental
missiles — long a bone of contention in its nuclear tensions with Washington
— in a massive parade through Pyongyang celebrating the country’s 70th
birthday.

– ‘Still waiting’ –

The latest parade “for once was not about their nuclear arsenal,” Sanders
said.

Trump thanked Kim for the gesture, saying on Twitter: “This is a big and
very positive statement from North Korea.”

Sanders was asked whether the next Trump-Kim meeting would take place in
Washington, but she demurred, saying, “we’ll let you know when we have
further details.”

The letter’s arrival was confirmed as Trump’s top security advisor said the
White House was looking to North Korea for next steps.

“We’re still waiting for them. The possibility of another meeting between
the two presidents obviously exists,” said National Security Advisor John
Bolton.

“But President Trump can’t make the North Koreans walk through the door
he’s holding open. They are the ones that have to take the steps to
denuclearize. And that’s what we are waiting for.”

Bolton said in a speech to the Federalist Society that during the Singapore
meeting with Trump in June, Kim committed to getting rid of his nuclear
weapons, and later agreed with South Korean President Moon Jae-in that it
could be done in one year.

After his speech, Bolton told reporters “it’s entirely possible” for the
two leaders to meet by year’s end.

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