Kim made the statement after being briefed by top North Korean official Kim Yong Chol, who returned to Pyongyang after visiting Washington last week for high-profile meetings at the State Department and White House. The delegate brought a letter from Trump addressed to Kim.
Trump has said he believes the two leaders will hold another summit in February, following on from their last meeting – a first for the two countries – in Singapore in June. North Korea has not yet confirmed details of another meeting.
“Upon receiving the good personal letter sent by President Trump, the Supreme Leader expressed great satisfaction,” North Korean state news agency KCNA reported Thursday. “He spoke highly of President Trump for expressing his unusual determination and will for the settlement of the issue with a great interest in the second DPRK-U.S. summit.”
The statement said Kim plans to “believe in the positive way of thinking of President Trump, wait with patience and good faith and, together with the U.S., advance step by step toward the goal to be reached by the two countries of the DPRK and the U.S.,” referencing North Korea’s official name for itself.
Organizing another summit is “high on the agenda,” Kim said.
The issue of peace talks between the U.S. and North Korea – centered on eliminating the communist nation’s nuclear weapons stockpile – has been fraught in recent years as Pyongyang escalated nuclear and missile tests.
Following the Singapore summit, in which both sides signed a vaguely worded agreement, North Korea has slowed those tests and, in a highly publicized demonstration, destroyed a satellite launch facility – though some believed it was already inoperable. Trump, in return, has indicated the U.S. would reduce or eliminate military exercises with South Korea, often referencing them as the North Koreans do, as “war games.”
Many analysts believe any signs of progress have slowed since the last meeting.
“The U.S. and North Korea have made no progress on denuclearization since the Singapore Summit. It’s not so much that the process has been derailed, it simply never left the station,” Bruce Klingner, a former CIA deputy division chief for the Koreas, now with the conservative think tank Heritage Foundation, said in a statement Thursday. “Trump made three mistakes in Singapore: accepting a poorly-crafted summit statement that was weaker than predecessor agreements, unilaterally canceling allied military exercises (at least 9 have been cancelled to date), and warmly praising Kim who is on the U.S. sanctions lists for human rights violations.”
Klingner said Trump must insist on more tangible steps toward Korean denuclearization if there were to be another summit. Trump also should not offer any further concessions, he said.
Earlier this week, the Center for Strategic and International Studies released a report documenting what it believes are 20 undeclared operational missile bases. The report suggests any future talks also address these undeclared facilities.
“North Korea is not supposed to have these ballistic missile bases,” Victor Cha, one of the report’s authors, told The Washington Post. “And of course they have them and have not disclosed them.”
Copyright 2019 U.S. News World Report