North Korea snubs USA, skips meeting on returning soldier remains
13 July, 2018, 02:07 | Author: Priscilla Morrison
US President Donald Trump has released a letter from Kim Jong-un in which the North Korean leader voices confidence in efforts to end their nuclear stand-off while urging the US leader to take "practical steps" to build trust.
Despite the apparent snub and worsening relations with North Korea, Donald Trump tweeted on Monday he has "confidence" that Mr Kim would honour the denuclearisation "contract" they signed at the Singapore summit.
Speaking with reporters before departing on a trip to Europe, Trump was asked to confirm a South Korean news report that US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo took with him to Pyongyang a CD of Elton John's song "Rocket Man" to give to Kim last week.
Addressing Trump, Kim describes their Jun 12 summit in Singapore, and the resulting joint statement, as the "start of a meaningful journey".
North Korean officials skipped planned talks on repatriating the remains of American war dead Thursday in the latest snub of a USA administration eager to show progress on efforts to rid the communist state of nuclear weapons.
The Pentagon says Pyongyang has indicated several times they have as many as 200 sets of remains that could be those of USA soldiers who died in the war.
Seoul's presidential office has said the suspension of the combined exercise could facilitate ongoing nuclear talks between North Korea and the United States.
The UNC told the US defense ministry about North Korea's proposal and is waiting for Washington's answer, the source added.
"I deeply appreciate the energetic and extraordinary efforts made by Your Excellency Mr. President for the improvement of relations between the two countries", Kim wrote, according to the letter, dated July 6.
The White House had said earlier Pompeo would meet with the leader, but the encounter did not materialise and the top United States diplomat only met with Kim Yong Chol.
State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said North Korea called at midday Thursday and offered to meet on Sunday instead.
The North Korean leader also expressed optimism about a future meeting. "The U.S.is fatally mistaken if it went to the extent of regarding that [North Korea] would be compelled to accept, out of its patience, demands reflecting its gangster-like mindset".
Kim refers to Trump as "your excellency" five times, praises the "improvement of relations" between the USA and North Korea, and expresses hope for a new future.
The North Korean leader said he hopes to "bring our next meeting forward" in the concluding sentence of the letter.
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But China did not immediately or publicly say how it would retaliate other than complaining to the World Trade Organization. The "biggest trade war ever in economic history" between China and the United States officially started on July 6.
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With a record 6.7 million unfilled jobs in April, economists are optimistic that wage growth will accelerate later this year. Many experts have expected job gains to slow because the low employment rate is making it harder for firms to find workers.
On Sunday, Iowa GOP Senator Joni Ernst said the US should restart its military exercises with South Korea if talks don't continue. A letter from Kim to Trump was also delivered to Pompeo through Kim Yong-chol, a top North Korean party official.
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