Donald Trump releases 'very nice' letter from Kim Jong Un

Donald Trump releases 'very nice' letter from Kim Jong Un
PHOTO: AFP

US President Donald Trump on Thursday again signaled optimism about efforts to end the nuclear standoff with North Korea, as he took the extraordinary diplomatic step of tweeting out a letter from Kim Jong Un.

The four-paragraph letter -- an upbeat missive in which Kim voices hope in a "new future" and speaks of his "invariable trust" in Trump -- is dated July 6, the day Secretary of State Mike Pompeo landed in North Korea for what turned out to be acrimonious talks with Kim's regime.

"A very nice note from Chairman Kim of North Korea," Trump tweeted alongside a copy of the letter. "Great progress being made!"

Addressing Trump, Kim describes their June 12 summit in Singapore, and the resulting joint statement, as the "start of a meaningful journey."

"I firmly believe that the strong will, sincere efforts and unique approach of myself and Your Excellency Mr. President aimed at opening up a new future between the DPRK and the US will sure surely come to fruition," Kim writes, according to the translation tweeted by the president.

"I deeply appreciate the energetic and extraordinary efforts made by Your Excellency Mr. President for the improvement of relations between the two countries and the faithful implementation of the joint statement," he adds.

Photo: AFP

Kim also voices hope "the invariable trust and confidence in Your Excellency Mr. President will be further strengthened in the future process of taking practical actions."

Pompeo travelled to Pyongyang for two days last week in a bid to flesh out denuclearization commitments made during last month's historic summit.

Speaking afterward in Tokyo, Pompeo insisted the talks were making progress and were being conducted in "good faith."

ALSO READ: Did N. Korea's Kim put potatoes over Pompeo?

But in stark contrast, Pyongyang's take was overwhelmingly negative, with the North warning that the future of the peace process was being jeopardized by "unilateral and gangster-like" US demands for its nuclear disarmament.

North Korea has long trumpeted a denuclearization goal, but one that it sees as a lengthy process of undefined multilateral disarmament on the entire Korean peninsula, rather than a unilateral dismantlement of its nuclear arsenal.

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Illegal oil

Pompeo has insisted that a raft of tough economic sanctions imposed on North Korea would remain in place until "final, fully verified denuclearization" occurs.

And even as Trump released Kim's note, the US was asking the UN Security Council to punish North Korea after finding that Pyongyang had violated restrictions on refined oil imports.

According to documents seen by AFP, the US sent a report to the UN sanctions committee that estimated at least 759,793 barrels of oil products had been delivered to North Korea between January 1 and May 30, well above the annual quota set at 500,000 barrels under a sanctions resolution adopted in December.

The illegal supplies were provided through ship-to-ship transfers at sea using North Korean tankers, according to the report.

The United States requested the UN sanctions committee to declare that North Korea had violated the UN-approved quota and "order an immediate halt to all transfers of refined petroleum products" to North Korea.

The committee was expected to take five days to consider the request, which China and Russia are expected to block.

When Trump met Kim: A Singapore story

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    Donald Trump and Kim Jong Un made history Tuesday, becoming the first sitting US and North Korean leaders to meet and shake hands, as they seek to end a tense decades-old nuclear stand-off.

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    It was a meeting many would have thought unimaginable just months ago.

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    The two men strode toward each other and shared the momentous handshake beneath the white-washed walls of an upscale hotel in neutral Singapore, before sitting down for a half-day of meetings with major ramifications for the world.

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    Prior to the meeting held at Capella Hotel in Singapore's resort island of Sentosa, Trump had said that he would know "within the first minute", whether any agreement would be possible.

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    The watching world is not sure if it's the start of a beautiful, budding "bromance", but here's a look at how the world's most talked-about first date unfolded.

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    Their handshake reportedly lasted for 12 long seconds (though still 7 seconds shorter than his memorable handshake with Japanese prime minister Shinzo Abe).

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    Trump also reached out to touch the North Korean leader on his right shoulder.

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    According to a body language expert Karen Leong, the first 60 seconds showed both leaders seeking to take charge in their encounter. US President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un both sought to project a sense of command. "Their handshake seems to be between peers," she said.

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    "Trump seemed to be very aware of this, that he needed to up the stakes and be seen that he is the leader."

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    Trump did most of the talking, and Kim appeared to listen attentively, turning to him three times during their walk toward their meeting room.

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    Trump did most of the talking, and Kim appeared to listen attentively, turning to him three times during their walk toward their meeting room.

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    The US President, who is more than twice Kim's age, then appeared to lead the way to the library where they held a one-on-one meeting, placing his hand on the North Korean leader's counterpart's back.

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    Kim also patted the US president' arm, in an attempt to show control over the encounter, said Leong.

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    The leaders appeared to share a few light-hearted moments as they walked down a corridor to the hotel's library.

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    However, Leong said both found it difficult to conceal their nervousness once they were seated, with Trump displaying a slanted smile, and fidgeting with his hands and Kim leaning and staring at the ground.

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    As they sat down for their one-on-one meeting, the US leader predicted a "terrific relationship" with Kim.

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    Mr Kim then said through a translator: “The way to come to here was not easy.The old prejudices and practices worked as obstacles on our way forward but we overcame all of them and we are here today.”

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    After their closed door one-on-one talks, the pair continued with explanded bilateral talks with their delegation. Trump was flanked by US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, chief of staff John Kelly and national security adviser John Bolton.

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    Sitting across the table from the US team were North Korean leader Kim, Kim Yong-chol, first vice department director of the ruling Workers’ Party’s central committee, North Korean Foreign Minister Ri Yong-ho and Ri Su-yong, Workers’ Party vice chairman on international affairs.

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    Thereafter, the two leaders attended a working lunch with their respective delegations at Capella Hotel.

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    On the lunch menu: Main courses include beef short rib confit, served with potato dauphinois and steamed broccoli; sweet and sour crispy pork and fried rice with an "XO" chilli sauce as well as a Korean dish called "daegu jorim", which is a soy braised cod fish with radish and Asian vegetables.

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    Post-lunch, Kim and Trump then went for a leisurely stroll around the hotel grounds.

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    He also said talks had gone "better than anybody could have expected", and indicated that they were heading for a "signing", but did not divulge any details of the agreement.

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    During their walk, Trump unexpectedly gave Kim a peek into his super limo, nicknamed "The Beast".

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    But they did not get to hop on to go for a joyride, as commentators had hoped.

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    The pair met to sign an agreement, details of which were not revealed during the signing. Trump said: "We're signing a very important document, pretty comprehensive document, and we've had a really great time together, a great relationship... More will be discussed at a press conference soon."

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    When asked what he learnt about Kim, Trump said that he is "a very talented man", and that "he loves his country very much".

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    Mr Trump also described Mr Kim as a "very worthy, very smart negotiator".

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    According to sources after the signing, the two leaders pledged to work toward complete denuclearization of the Korean peninsula, while Washington committed to provide security guarantees for its old enemy.

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    The signatures of US President Donald Trump and North Korea's leader Kim Jong Un. Trump said he expected the denuclearization process to start "very, very quickly".

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    Kim places a hand on Trump's back as they leave the room after the signing.

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    After the signing, the pair walked out for another round of photo-taking.

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    Reports say Mr Kim departed Singapore on a chartered Air China flight at 11.20pm and midnight on Tuesday, while Trump left on Air Force One earlier at 6.25pm.

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    At 4pm, Trump held a press conference on the summit outcome and details on the agreement signed.

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    "We signed a joint statement that is an unwavering commitment to complete denuclearisation of North Korea," he says.

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    The Capella Hotel on Singapore's resort island of Sentosa, provided the backdrop for the historic summit.

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    Trump's motorcade arriving at Sentosa on Tuesday (June 12) morning.

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    Setting the stage ready for the handshake that will be seen across the world.

No show in remains transfer

Separately, North Korean officials did not show up at planned talks with the US on Thursday to discuss repatriating the remains of American soldiers killed during the 1950-53 Korean War.

Returning the remains was part of the deal signed by Kim and Trump in Singapore.

Pompeo had said a Pentagon team would meet with the North's officials on or around Thursday at the inter-Korea border to discuss the repatriation.

State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said the North Koreans called around midday to say the meeting would be delayed until July 15.

"We will be ready," Nauert said.

Defence officials have already shipped dozens of cases to Panmunjom in anticipation of receiving the remains of US troops.

The Pentagon says Pyongyang has indicated several times they have as many as 200 sets of remains that could be those of US soldiers who died in the war.

But Pentagon officials cautioned it is unclear just how much North Korea is preparing to hand over.

On June 20, Trump erroneously said 200 human remains had already "been sent back" from North Korea.

On Monday, Pentagon spokesman Colonel Rob Manning said the Defence Department "remains postured and ready to receive those remains."

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