North Korean leader Kim Jong Un received a personal letter from President Donald Trump and described its contents as “excellent,” the state-run Korean Central News Agency reported on Sunday.
KCNA did not provide details on the letter, but it reported that Kim would seriously contemplate its contents. The report also said Kim appreciated Trump’s “extraordinary courage.”
Although talks between Trump and Kim at a summit in Vietnam in February on shutting down North Korea’s nuclear weapons facilities failed, the two leaders have sought to maintain the personal ties they say they established with one another. For instance, Trump has publicly praised and defended Kim’s leadership multiple times, despite an ongoing food crisis and human rights violations in North Korea.
Earlier this month, Trump told reporters at the White House that he received a “beautiful letter” from Kim and, as he often does, praised the North Korean dictator.
“I can’t show you the letter obviously, but it was a very personal, very warm, very nice letter,” Trump said, adding that “North Korea has tremendous potential” under Kim’s leadership.
Trump eventually showed the letter to reporters in the Oval Office on Monday, then warned a photographer he could go to prison for trying to take a photo of it.
Trump also stressed that he had a “very strong relationship” with North Korea and described Kim as “very smart” during an interview with ABC News. In that same interview, Trump said he wasn’t sure if North Korea was still building nuclear weapons and noted that Kim “promised me he wouldn’t be testing.”
Others in the Trump administration, including Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and National Security Adviser John Bolton, take a more cautious and skeptical approach toward Kim and his regime as negotiations over the country’s nuclear program remain at a stalemate.
In April, North Korean officials said they no longer wanted to work with Pompeo and insisted that he be replaced with someone who is “more careful and mature.”
North Korea’s First Vice Foreign Minister Choe Son Hui also criticized Bolton for suggesting that the U.S. needed more evidence that Kim was ready to give up having nuclear weapons before he could meet with Trump for another summit.
In response to the remark, Choe said Bolton had “no charm” and was being “dim-sighted,” according to North Korea’s state-run media.