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North Korea reaffirms ‘special’ relationship with Trump, urges US to act 'wisely'

The Korean Central News Agency, the official voice of North Korea, recently released photos of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un riding on horseback to Mount Paektu.

KCNA

By KIM GAMEL | STARS AND STRIPES Published: October 24, 2019

SEOUL, South Korea — North Korea urged the United States to act “wisely” to revive nuclear talks by the end of the year, saying Thursday that Kim Jong Un maintains a “special” relationship with President Donald Trump.

The statement, carried on the official Korean Central News Agency, accused U.S. policymakers of maintaining hostility toward the communist state despite the good relationship between the two leaders.

Kim Kye Gwan, a foreign ministry adviser and former nuclear envoy, expressed optimism, and said he had reported the problems to the North Korean leader, who maintained that his relationship with Trump is “special.”

“The problem is that contrary to the political judgment and intention of President Trump, Washington political circles and (North Korea) policy makers of the U.S. administration are hostile to (North Korea) for no reason,” Kim Kye Gwan was quoted as saying by KCNA.

“There is a will, there is a way,” he added. “We want to see how wisely the U.S. will pass the end of the year.”

The comments came days after North Korea released several photos of Kim Jong Un riding a white horse to Mount Paektu, a site he has frequently visited before announcing key decisions.

The third-generation leader also vowed to overcome U.S.-led international sanctions that have been imposed to punish the North for its nuclear weapons program.

The highly symbolic images underscored the North’s growing frustration at the diplomatic stalemate after summits with the United States and South Korea raised hopes for a breakthrough last year.

The second U.S.-North Korean summit in Vietnam in February broke down after the Trump administration rejected Kim’s offer to dismantle the North’s main nuclear facility in exchange for the lifting of the harshest sanctions.

The two leaders promised to resume talks during an impromptu meeting on June 30 on the Korean border. But the working-level negotiations that took place in Sweden earlier this month also ended without agreement.

North Korea has given the United States until the end of the year to come up with a more flexible approach, warning it may resume long-range missile and nuclear tests if there’s no progress.

Trump has dismissed a series of recent short-range missile and rocket launches despite warnings from experts that the North is demonstrating worrisome advances in developing weapons that could threaten the United States.

The president also reiterated his respect for Kim Jong Un during a Cabinet meeting Monday that was dominated by the troop withdrawal from Syria and the domestic scandals.

“Something is going to be happening with North Korea too,” Trump told reporters. “There’s some very interesting information on North Korea. A lot of things are going on.”

He didn’t elaborate but said: “I like Kim. He likes me. We get along. I respect him. He respects me."

gamel.kim@stripes.com
Twitter: @kimgamel

 

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