South Korea Clarifies That It Can’t Confirm Kim Invite to Trump

Jihye Lee

(Bloomberg) -- South Korea clarified Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-wha’s remarks earlier in the day in which she appeared to confirm a local newspaper report saying Kim Jong Un invited U.S. President Donald Trump to visit Pyongyang.

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

“We have received a detailed explanation from our U.S. 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.

Later on Monday, the ministry issued a statement saying she was referring to a different letter that Kim had sent to Trump.

“What Kang meant when she confirmed a letter earlier was the letter that Trump tweeted August 10th,” the foreign ministry said in a statement. “There is nothing to be confirmed about the Joongang article inviting Trump to Pyongyang.”

The White House offered no immediate comment on the report.

The U.S. president had said in early August that Kim had sent him a “very beautiful letter” that mostly complained “about the ridiculous and expensive” joint military drills between the U.S. and South Korea, adding that Kim had apologized for recent short-range missile tests. Joongang Ilbo reported the second later came shortly after that one, and it wasn’t clear whether Trump has responded to either letter.

Working-level talks on denuclearization have stalled since Trump and Kim’s last official summit in Hanoi ended without a deal. The pair agreed to restart talks in June at an impromptu meeting in which Trump made history by stepping across the border into North Korea, though 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,” its state-run Korean Central News Agency said, citing vice foreign minister Choe Son Hui.

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

(Updates with statement from foreign ministry)

--With assistance from Jordan Fabian.

To contact the reporter on this story: Jihye Lee in Seoul at jlee2352@bloomberg.net

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Daniel Ten Kate at dtenkate@bloomberg.net, Adrian Kennedy

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