US President Donald Trump received a letter from North Korean leader Kim Jong-un on Monday asking for a second meeting and the White House is preparing to schedule one.
The two leaders have been discussing North Korea’s nuclear programme since their unprecedented June 12 summit in Singapore, which has been criticised for being short on concrete details about steps towards complete and verifiable denuclearisation.
“It was a very warm, very positive letter,” White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders said at a press briefing.
“The primary purpose of the letter was to request and look to schedule another meeting with the president, which we are open to and are already in the process of coordinating that.”
Sanders told reporters the letter exhibited “a continued commitment to focus on denuclearisation of the peninsula”.
She said a military parade in Pyongyang on Sunday was “a sign of good faith” because it did not feature any long-range nuclear missiles.
Trump and Kim held the landmark summit in Singapore in June that raised prospects of a breakthrough on curtailing North Korea’s nuclear programme.
North Korea returns remains of US soldiers
Despite follow-on negotiations hitting a snag and leading Secretary of State Mike Pompeo canceling a planned trip to the North late last month, the new letter showed signs discussions remain alive.
“We think it’s important and we’re glad that we’re making progress,” Sanders said, adding Trump deserves the “credit” for bringing the two parties to the negotiating 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.
Washington, DC meet?
The White House has pointed to a series of accomplishments in recent months – a release of US hostages, the repatriation of war remains believed to be of US service members, a pause in North Korea’s missile and nuclear tests, and the recent military parade through Pyongyang that did not show off the country’s intercontinental missiles.
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”.
Trump’s national security adviser said Monday the United States is still waiting for action on denuclearisation.
“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,” John Bolton said on Monday.
“If they would denuclearise, as they committed to do in Singapore, they could have a very different kind of life in North Korea.”