North Korean leader Kim Jong Un invited Trump to visit Pyongyang

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and US President Donald Trump walking together after a meeting in Hanoi, Vietnam, on Feb 28, 2019.
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and US President Donald Trump walking together after a meeting in Hanoi, Vietnam, on Feb 28, 2019.PHOTO: AP

SEOUL (BLOOMBERG) - South Korea confirmed a local newspaper report saying North Korean leader Kim Jong Un invited US President Donald Trump to visit Pyongyang, in an apparent bid by Kim to restart stalled nuclear talks despite tensions over the country’s recent missile tests.

South Korea’s Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-wha was asked at a parliamentary session on Monday (Sept 16) about a report by Joongang Ilbo newspaper that detailed Kim’s offer for another summit. It came in a letter delivered in the third week of August, the South Korean newspaper said, citing multiple people familiar with the matter.

“We have received a detailed explanation from our US counterparts that a letter of that kind has been delivered,” Kang told lawmakers. “What was written in the letter, when the letter was delivered, is not for us to confirm,” she added.

The White House offered no immediate comment.

Kim’s invitation came shortly after a separate letter from Kim that Trump made public in the first week of August, the newspaper said.

Mr Trump said in early August that Mr Kim had sent him a "very beautiful letter" that mostly complained "about the ridiculous and expensive" joint military drills between the US and South Korea, adding that Mr Kim had apologised for the short-range missile tests.

It is not clear whether Mr Trump has responded to either letter, the Joongang Ilbo reported.

Working-level talks on denuclearisation have stalled since Trump's and Kim's last official summit in Hanoi ended without a deal.

While the pair agreed to restart talks in June at an impromptu meeting in which Mr Trump made history by stepping across the border into North Korea, little progress has been made since then.

North Korea last week agreed to return to talks at a "time and place to be agreed late in September", state media Korean Central News Agency said, citing vice-foreign minister Choe Son Hui.

Choe, however, threatened to walk away from future talks if the US returns with the same "worn-out scenario", KCNA reported, without elaborating further.