REUTERS: North Korea on Saturday (Mar 21) welcomed what it said was a letter from US President Donald Trump to North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, saying it was a sign of "the special and very firm personal relations" between the two leaders despite recent frictions.
The statement by Kim's sister Kim Yo Jong came a day after the nuclear-armed North fired what appeared to be two short-range ballistic missiles off its east coast on Saturday, the latest such action it has taken this year.
"In the letter, he... explained his plan to propel the relations between the two countries of the DPRK and the US and expressed his intent to render cooperation in the anti-epidemic work," an apparent reference to the coronavirus pandemic, Jong said in the statement reported by the North's Korean Central News Agency (KCNA).
A senior administration official confirmed Trump sent a letter to Kim, "consistent with his efforts to engage global leaders during the ongoing pandemic.
While the letter reflects "excellent" ties between the two leaders, Jong warned that broader relations between their two nations are different.
"We try to hope for the day when the relations between the two countries would be as good as the ones between the two top leaders, but it has to be left to time and be watched whether it can actually happen," Jong said.
"The President looks forward to continued communications with Chairman Kim", the official said.
The letter said that despite good personal relations between the leaders, "if impartiality and balance are not provided and unilateral and greedy intention is not taken away, the bilateral relations will continue to aggravate."
Since Trump held a third summit with Kim last June and briefly stepped into North Korea from the demilitarised zone with South Korea, no progress has been made on the US president's bid to get Pyongyang to give up its nuclear and missile programs.
North Korea has attempted a series of missile launches, including the launch of two apparent short-range missiles in the last day or so, as it tries to pressure the United States and its allies to lift economic sanctions.
North Korea state media said Kim had received a letter from Trump in which the US president said he was impressed by the North Korean leader's efforts to defend his people from the coronavirus.
The White House did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the North Korean statement.
Trump "expressed his intent to render cooperation in the anti-epidemic work, saying that he was impressed by the efforts made by the Chairman to defend his people from the serious threat of the epidemic," KCNA reported. It did not say when the letter was received.