Trump releases letter from Kim Jong Un praising 'epochal progress' despite setbacks in denuclearization talks

President Trump on Thursday released a personal note from North Korean leader Kim Jong Un praising the “epochal progress” since their summit in Singapore last month, despite a series of recent setbacks that have cast doubt on denuclearization talks.

In a tweet, Trump posted copies of the note — both in Korean and translated into English — in which Kim states that the summit was the “start of a meaningful journey” and that a “new future” between the United States and North Korea “will surely come to fruition.”

“I deeply appreciate the energetic and extraordinary efforts made by Your Excellency Mr. President for the improvement of relations between the two countries,” Kim wrote, according to the letter, dated July 6. That was the day Secretary of State Mike Pompeo arrived for two days of meetings with top North Korean officials, which ended on a sour note after Pyongyang blasted the U.S. side for issuing a “unilateral and gangster-like demand for denuclearization.”

In his note, Kim offered no reassurances that he is committed to relinquishing his country’s nuclear weapons or ballistic missile arsenal, referring more generally to “the faithful implementation of the joint statement” agreed to in Singapore. That statement said North Korea would “work toward complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula,” but offered not details on when or how Pyongyang would relinquish its program.

“A very nice note from Chairman Kim of North Korea,” Trump wrote in his tweet. “Great progress being made!”

Trump posted the note several hours after arriving in London for his first visit to the United Kingdom, after wrapping up a contentious appearance at the NATO summit. The president rattled U.S. allies by demanding that the other NATO nations pay more toward their own defense, although he stopped short of threatening to pull the United States out of the trans-Atlantic alliance.

[Trump says NATO nations make major new defense spending commitments after he upends summit]

The president has sought to maintain the momentum of his summit with Kim despite the fact that Pyongyang has showed no signs of taking steps to dismantle its nuclear program. U.S. intelligence analysts said in the wake of the summit that Pyongyang is working to conceal key elements of its program, including the number of weapons it maintains and secret production facilities.

Kim did not meet with Pompeo during his visit this month, viewed widely by foreign affairs analysts as an intentional slight since the two had met twice previously in Pyongyang. And a North Korean delegation failed to show up for a meeting with U.S. officials in the demilitarized zone between North Korea and South Korea this week to discuss the repatriation of remains of U.S. military troops during the Korean War.

Despite such setbacks, Trump has continued to maintain that progress is being made. He tweeted after the summit that “there is no longer a nuclear threat from North Korea,” and he has praised the “great success” during campaign rallies.

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