North Korea’s official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) on Sunday quoted Kim as saying that he would be “seriously” contemplating the letter’s content.
Kim “said with satisfaction that the letter is of excellent content,” the agency reported. “Appreciating the political judging faculty and extraordinary courage of President Trump, Kim Jong-un said that he would seriously contemplate the interesting content.”
The White House has not disclosed when or how Trump’s letter to Kim was delivered and made no elaboration on the content.
Trump announced earlier this month that he had received a “beautiful letter” from the North Korean leader, breaking the silence since the collapse of a bilateral summit in the Vietnamese capital of Hanoi in February.
Speculations are that the letters could pave the way for a third summit between the two leaders.
Trump is scheduled to travel to the South Korean capital of Seoul on June 29 and some political experts believe that he might even try to arrange a meeting with Kim at the border between North and South Korea.
South Korea’s presidential Blue House hailed the exchange of letters in a statement as positive and said it “carries on the momentum for talks between the two countries.”
The KCNA report came just two days after Chinese President Xi Jinping paid a landmark visit to Pyongyang, signaling willingness to play a mediating role to settle disputes between Trump and Kim over the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.
Xi is due to meet with Trump and South Korean President Moon Jae-in at the Group of 20 summit in Japan on Friday, with analysts saying he could pass the US president a message from Kim about the nuclear negotiations.
Trump has cast off a more-often-than-not bellicose rhetoric and recently adopted an amicable tone towards Kim, saying earlier this month that North Korea under Kim’s leadership had “tremendous potential.”
During a visit to Japan in May, the US president also lauded Kim as a “very smart guy” and said he expected “a lot of good things” to come out of North Korea.
The US and North Korea had been negotiating over the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula since last year, when a rapprochement between North and South Korea later led to a diplomatic opening between Pyongyang and Washington.
But the talks have effectively stalled in recent months after the second summit between Kim and Trump in Hanoi ended without an agreement in February.
The Trump-Kim summit failed after Pyongyang reportedly demanded that the US lift sanctions in exchange for denuclearization.
Washington has imposed several rounds of unilateral sanctions against Pyongyang since 2006 over its nuclear and missile programs
Since the diplomatic engagement with the South and the US started, North Korea has taken a number of goodwill measures, including suspending all nuclear and missile testing.
America has, however, reciprocated none of those measures and insisted that sanctions on the North must remain in place until it completely and irreversibly dismantles its nuclear program.
US extends sanctions against North Korea
The news of the letter exchange came as the White House announced that the Trump administration will extend sanctions against North Korea for another year as of June 26.
“The existence and risk of the proliferation of nuclear material suitable for armed use on the Korean Peninsula, as well as the actions and policies of the North Korean government, continue to pose an extreme threat to national security, foreign policy and the US economy,” the White House said on its website.
“In this regard, US President Donald Trump extended the decrees that established a national emergency in connection with the threat from the DPRK, as well as other orders imposing sanctions against Pyongyang after June 26, 2019,” it added.