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Trump received Kim's letter seeking 2nd meet: White House

Mr Kim and Mr Trump at the historic summit held in June in Singapore.


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 denuclearisation" 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 on Monday at the first White House press briefing in nearly three weeks.

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Ms Sanders added that the letter was "further evidence of progress" in Washington's relationship with Pyongyang.

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

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 Mr Trump and Mr Kim.

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

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

Despite follow-on negotiations on denuclearising the peninsula hitting a snag leading to US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo cancelling 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," Ms Sanders said, adding that Mr 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, Mr 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.

The latest parade "for once was not about their nuclear arsenal," Ms Sanders said.

Mr Trump thanked Mr Kim for the gesture, saying on Twitter: "This is a big and very positive statement from North Korea." Ms 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 Mr Trump's top security adviser 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 adviser 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 denuclearise. And that's what we are waiting for." Mr Bolton said in a speech to the Federalist Society that during the Singapore meeting with Mr Trump in June, Mr 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, Mr Bolton told reporters "it's entirely possible" for the two leaders to meet by year's end. AFP