Korea

North Korean leader warns of return to tension; Trump thanks Putin

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un told Russian President Vladimir Putin that peace and security on the Korean peninsula depended on the United States, warning that a state of hostility could easily return, North Korean media said on Friday.

Kim’s remarks during talks with Putin on Thursday appeared aimed at pushing Washington to be more flexible on North Korean demands for an easing of international sanctions.

U.S. President Donald Trump, who ended a second summit with Kim in February without a deal for North Korea to give up its nuclear weapons, seemed unperturbed, saying a lot of progress was being made toward an agreement and welcoming Putin’s support.

Putin said after holding his first face-to-face talks with Kim in the Russian Pacific port of Vladivostok on Thursday that U.S. security guarantees would probably not be enough to persuade Pyongyang to give up its nuclear program.

He said he believed any U.S. guarantees might need to be supported by the other nations involved in previous six-way talks on the nuclear issue, which included Russia, China, Japan and South Korea as well as the United States and North Korea.

“I think we’re doing very well with North Korea. A lot of progress is being made,” Trump told reporters at the White House. “I appreciated President Putin’s statement yesterday. He wants to see it done also. I think there’s a lot of excitement for getting a deal done with North Korea.”

The Trump-Kim summit in Hanoi in February collapsed without progress on a U.S. demand that North Korea give up its nuclear weapons and North Korean demands for easing of sanctions.

Kim has said he would wait until the end of the year for the United States to be more flexible.

“The situation on the Korean peninsula and the region is now at a standstill and has reached a critical point where it may return to its original state as the U.S. took a unilateral attitude in bad faith at the recent second DPRK-U.S. summit talks,” North Korea’s official KCNA news agency quoted Kim as saying.

Read more at Reuters

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Joyce Lee, Jeff Mason