Wed, 05 Aug 2020

Kim Jong Un's sister says relationship with Trump remains strong

Voice of America
11 Jul 2020, 01:52 GMT+10

SEOUL, South Korea - North Korea says the chances are low for another summit with the United States, after President Donald Trump this week said he is open to meeting again with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.

Kim Yo Jong, the sister of Kim Jong Un, said another summit would "not be useful to us" unless the U.S. changes its approach to stalled nuclear talks, the state-run Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) reported Friday.

"It is my personal opinion, but a summit between the U.S. and North Korea will not take place this year," said Kim Yo Jong, who has recently taken on a more prominent leadership role in North Korea.

However, she said the relationship between Trump and Kim Jong Un remains strong and has likely prevented "extreme provocations."

"We have no intention of threatening the United States ... if they don't touch us and hurt us, everything will flow normally," she added.

Earlier this week, Trump said he was open to meeting again with Kim Jong Un.

"I understand they want to meet, and we would certainly do that," Trump said Tuesday in an interview with Gray TV.

The comments were puzzling, because North Korea has said for months that it has no interest in resuming dialogue with the United States.

North Korea is upset at the U.S. refusal to relax sanctions and provide security guarantees in exchange for limited steps to dismantle its nuclear program.

"We are not saying we are not going to denuclearize, but we cannot denuclearize now," Kim Yo Jong said, stressing any North Korean steps must be matched by corresponding U.S. ones.

Trump and Kim have met three times, including in June 2018 in Singapore, where they signed a short statement agreeing to "work toward complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula."

But the talks began to break down in February 2019 after the two sides failed to reach an agreement at a second summit in Hanoi, Vietnam.

At the Hanoi summit, Trump rejected North Korea's offer to dismantle its prominent Yongbyon nuclear facility in exchange for the lifting of sanctions imposed on North Korea since 2016.

In June 2019, Trump and Kim met briefly at the demilitarized zone separating the two Koreas. The two sides also held working-level talks in Stockholm in 2019, but those negotiations quickly broke down.

Speaking to reporters Thursday, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said the U.S. continues "to work to establish dialogue and have substantive conversations" with North Korea.

"We're very hopeful that we can continue to have this conversation, whether that's at the levels beneath the summit, or if it's appropriate and there is a useful activity to take place, to have senior leaders get back together as well," Pompeo said.

"As for who and how and timing, I just don't want to talk about that today," he added.

Earlier this month, South Korean President Moon Jae-in said he would like to see Trump and Kim hold another meeting before the U.S. presidential election in November.

Some analysts have questioned whether Trump has other priorities; with just four months to go until the election, Trump is trailing Joe Biden, the presumptive Democratic nominee, in the polls. North Korea is not seen as a major issue in the U.S. election.

However, if Trump could revive the North Korea talks, it could help highlight what White House officials had once heralded as a signature Trump foreign policy achievement.

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