North Korea's Kim Jong Un: I don't want my children to bear burden of nuclear arms

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un speaking at an event in Pyongyang, North Korea, on Feb 8, 2019. PHOTO: REUTERS

HANOI (REUTERS) - North Korean leader Kim Jong Un told the US Secretary of State he did not want his children to live with the burden of nuclear weapons, a former CIA officer involved in high-level diplomacy over the North's weapons was quoted as saying on Saturday (Feb 23).

Mr Kim made the rare personal comments to Mr Mike Pompeo during a visit to the North Korean capital, Pyongyang, in April last year to lay the groundwork for the historic first summit between the North's leader and United States President Donald Trump in June in Singapore, former CIA official Andrew Kim said, South Korea's Yonhap news agency and the Wall Street Journal reported.

"'I'm a father and a husband. And I have children,'" Mr Andrew Kim quoted the North Korean leader as telling Mr Pompeo, when asked whether he was willing to end his nuclear programme.

"'And I don't want my children to carry the nuclear weapon on their back their whole life.' That was his answer," Mr Andrew Kim told a lecture on Friday at Stanford University's Asia Pacific Research Centre, where he is a visiting scholar.

Before he retired from the CIA, Mr Andrew Kim established the agency's Korea Mission Centre, in April 2017, and accompanied Mr Pompeo - who was then CIA director - to Pyongyang last year.

In their Singapore summit, Mr Kim Jong Un and Mr Trump pledged to work towards peace between their countries and for the denuclearisation of the Korean peninsula.

But little progress has been made since then and they are set to meet again in Hanoi next Wednesday and Thursday.

They are expected to focus on what steps North Korea might take towards denuclearisation, in exchange for what US concession.

The former CIA officer said the North Korean leader expressed a strong desire to improve ties with the US as a way to build confidence between them, which he said was needed to end the nuclear weapons programme.

Mr Kim Jong Un left Pyongyang by train for his visit to Vietnam on Saturday afternoon, Russia's TASS news agency reported on Saturday citing a North Korean diplomatic source.

North Korea's state media has yet to confirm either Mr Kim's trip to Vietnam or his summit with Mr Trump.

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