Trump Cites Kim Letter as Sign of Progress With North Korea

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President Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump arrived in the U.K. on Thursday.

President Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump arrived in the U.K. on Thursday.


Photo:

brendan smialowski/Agence France-Presse/Getty Images

President

Donald Trump

took the unusual step Thursday of releasing a letter he received last week from North Korean leader

Kim Jong Un

that hailed their summit meeting in Singapore as the “start of a meaningful journey” and called for “practical actions” on both sides.

The letter illustrated Mr. Kim’s apparent calculation that negotiations to denuclearize the Korean Peninsula can best be advanced by appealing directly to Mr. Trump rather than the U.S. president’s subordinates, who are now tasked with pressing the North Koreans for specific steps to disarm.

The letter was dated July 6, when Secretary of State

Mike Pompeo

arrived in Pyongyang for two days of talks that were intended to flesh out the general understandings that were announced at the summit.

Mr. Kim didn’t meet with Mr. Pompeo during that visit and Pyongyang later said the secretary of state had issued “gangster-like” demands and ignored North Korean concerns and that his visit had “raised the risk of war.” 

Since Mr. Pompeo’s visit, critics have questioned whether the Singapore summit had yielded the breakthroughs Mr. Trump has touted toward eliminating North Korea’s nuclear weapons and programs.

The president countered that criticism by disclosing Mr. Kim’s note in a tweet, without noting the fact that it preceded North Korea’s harsh criticism of Mr. Pompeo’s discussions. “Great progress being made!” Mr. Trump wrote.

Mr. Trump made a similar point at his press conference Thursday in Brussels. “We’ll see where it all ends,” he said. “But the main thing is, there have been no rocket launches, there have been no missile tests, there’s been no nuclear tests, no explosions, no nothing for almost nine months.”

Satellite photos have shown that North Korea has been expanding a key missile manufacturing plant and upgrading its nuclear infrastructure at Yongbyon.

On Thursday, United Nations Secretary-General

António Guterres

said there would be “hiccups in a process like this” but that he was hopeful negotiations between the U.S. and North Korea would lead to a “peaceful solution and denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.”

Write to Michael R. Gordon at michael.gordon@wsj.com

Appeared in the July 13, 2018, print edition as ‘Trump Releases Letter From Kim.’

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