President Donald Trump “likes” North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and wants to grant Kim’s wishes if Pyongyang scraps its nuclear arsenal, South Korean President Moon Jae-in said.
En route to New Zealand from the Group of 20 summit this weekend in Argentina, Moon said Trump asked him to forward a message to Kim during a meeting on the sidelines of the gathering Friday.
“The message was that President Trump has a very friendly view of Chairman Kim and that he likes him, and so he wishes Chairman Kim would implement the rest of their agreement and that he would make what Chairman Kim wants come true,” Moon said Saturday.
Trump and Kim met at a historic summit in Singapore in June, after which North Korea agreed to work toward a “complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula” and the United States promised to provide security guarantees, but progress has been stalled.
Both sides have held high-level talks since the summit, but Pyongyang wants relief of punishing international sanctions in exchange for steps it has already taken, such as dismantling a nuclear testing site, while Washington holds out for complete denuclearization.
North Korea has continued to run its ballistic missile program at several secret bases, according to a report from the Center for Strategic and International Studies, a Washington think tank. Pyongyang announced the test of a new “ultramodern tactical weapon” this month amidst the stalled diplomatic efforts.
Moon said “corresponding measures” might be given for steps North Korea takes toward completely dismantling its nuclear weapons program, but these do not have to include sanctions relief.
“For example, postponing or reducing U.S. (and South Korean joint) military exercises may be a sort of corresponding measure or humanitarian assistance or some kind of nonpolitical exchange, whether it is a sports exchange or an art troupe,” he said.
A South Korean train crossed the heavily guarded border into North Korea for the first time in more than a decade Friday, as experts from the South begin a survey of railway tracks in the North. Seoul wants to push ahead with a project to connect the two countries’ railway networks despite stringent United Nations sanctions. The trip required special permission from the United Nations to carry equipment and fuel into the North.
Moon said it was possible that Kim could visit Seoul before the end of the year. The meeting, which would mark the first time a North Korean leader has visited the South’s capital since the end of the Korean War of 1950-1953, was announced after an inter-Korean summit in June but postponed in the midst of the Pyongyang-Washington stalemate.