White House confirms President Trump sent letter to Kim Jong Un

The White House confirmed Wednesday that President Donald Trump sent a letter to North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.

Press secretary Sarah Sanders, in a short statement to reporters, said, “The President responded to Chairman Kim’s letter.”

Kim Yong Chol, North Korea’s lead negotiator on nuclear talks, visited Washington last week and spoke with Trump for 90 minutes in the Oval Office. He brought with him a letter from Kim Jong Un addressed to Trump. The meeting with Trump resulted in the announcement of a second summit between Trump and the North Korean leader at the end of February.

North Korean state media reported Kim was presented the letter from Trump by Kim Yong Chol. The report called it a “good personal letter.”

In June, Trump and Kim met for their first summit in Singapore. The summit ended with a commitment from the North Korean leader to “work toward complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula,” but since then negotiations appear to have stalled.

At the time, Trump declared the summit had eliminated any nuclear threat posed by North Korea, despite the meeting not producing any verifiable proof that North Korea will discontinue its nuclear program.

Critics accuse the Trump administration of failing to get Pyongyang to agree to specifics at their first summit. They say the North Koreans want another summit because they believe they can extract greater concessions by meeting directly with Trump, as opposed to working with envoys like Secretary of State Mike Pompeo or Steve Biegun, the US special representative to North Korea.

Last week, shortly after the White House meeting, Sanders was asked by reporters why the US should believe North Korean promises about denuclearization.

“We’ve continued to make progress,” Sanders said. “We’re continuing to have conversations. The US is going to continue to keep pressure and sanctions on North Korea until we see fully and verified denuclearization. We’ve had very good steps in good faith from the North Koreans in releasing the hostages and other moves so we’re going to continue those conversations.”