President resident Donald Trump said Saturday that Chairman Kim Jong Un told him he was ready to resume talks on NKorea’s nuclear and missile programs and would stop missile testing as soon as US-SKorea military exercises end.
Trump and Kim have met twice since their first summit in Singapore last year, but little progress has been on Washington’s aim of getting the NKorean leader to give up his weapons.
“I look forward to seeing Kim Jong Un in the not too distant future!” President Trump said on Twitter.
NKorea fired what appeared to be two short-range missiles on Saturday, SKorea said, in a “show of force” against the exercises.
More missile launches are highly probable, as the NKorean military is conducting its own summer drills, SKorea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS) said in a statement.
The exercises are largely computer-simulated as an alternative to previous large-scale annual drills that were halted to expedite denuclearization talks.
In his Tweet, President Trump said Chairman Kim sent him a letter saying “very nicely” that he wanted to meet once the “ridiculous and expensive” US-SKorea exercises were over.
President Trump added: “It was also a small apology for testing the short range missiles, and that this testing would stop when the exercises end.”
Saturday’s missile launches were the latest in a recent string of tests by NKorea that have raised questions about the future of dialog.
Keen to tout his NKorea policy as a success ahead of his 2020 reelection bid, President Trump has played down the threat, saying they do not violate Chairman Kim’s pledge to forego nuclear and long-range tests.
NKorea’s state media has yet to confirm the launch, but in a commentary on Saturday it blamed the South for “building up arms against dialog.”
“All the facts prove that the SKorean authorities are hell-bent on arms buildup against their dialog partner,” the state-run KCNA news agency said.
Kim has decried the US-SKorean drills as a rehearsal for war aimed at toppling its leadership.
The launches were apparently testing capabilities of a new short-range missile Pyongyang is developing, SKorea’s Presidential office said.
“Because of concerns that North Korea’s series of launches can raise military tensions on the Korean Peninsula, ministers called for North Korea to stop it,” the Blue House said, citing a meeting of SKorea’s top security officials.