A U.S. ambassador gave North Korean Foreign Minister Ri Yong Ho a letter from President Donald Trump at a conference in Singapore, according to The Washington Post.
The letter is a response to a letter President Trump received from North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, according to the New York Post.
The exchange took place at the annual conference of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN). Secretary of State Mike Pompeo was also in attendance at the conference.
During the conference, Pompeo warned Russia against helping North Korea violate United Nations sanctions.
Later in the day, Pompeo and Ri talked informally. A State Department spokeswoman, Heather Nauert, reported that Pompeo suggested they talk soon. Ri agreed, saying, “There are many productive conversations to be had.”
After the exchange between Pompeo and Ri, Sung Kim, the U.S. ambassador to the Philippines, handed Ri a letter in a white envelope. The letter was from President Trump to Kim Jong Un.
The letter is a response to a “nice note” President Trump received from Kim, which Trump posted on Twitter. The note said that the two leaders had started on a “meaningful journey,” according to the New York Post.
“I deeply appreciate the energetic and extraordinary efforts made by Your Excellency Mr. President for the improvement of relations between the two countries and the faithful implementation of the joint statement,” said the letter.
After Pompeo left the conference, Ri delivered remarks that criticized the White House. Ri stated that North Korea is still committed to the joint statement issued in June after a meeting between President Trump and Kim, but disagrees with continuing sanctions until disarmament is complete. Instead, they demand “confidence-building” measures during the disarmament process.
“Confidence is not a sentiment to be cultivated overnight,” Ri said, according to The Washington Post, “In order to build full confidence between the DPRK [the official name of North Korea] and the U.S., it is essential for both sides to take simultaneous actions and phased steps to do what is possible one after another.”
During the ASEAN summit, Pompeo met with diplomats from over 20 countries to urge their governments to follow U.N. sanctions. A report from the U.N. was released Friday stating that North Korea had violated sanctions. The country is continuing to develop its nuclear weapons program despite promises to denuclearize.
In an interview with Channel NewsAsia and reported by The Washington Post, Pompeo said, “The ultimate timeline for denuclearization will be set by Chairman Kim, at least in part. The decision is his.”
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