President Donald Trump on Friday praised the “very beautiful” letter he had received from North Korea’s Kim Jong-un, only hours before the regime conducted yet another weapons test.
Trump told reporters that the letter was delivered a day before and was three pages, hand-delivered, “very positive,” and “really beautiful.” It comes amid a stalemate in nuclear negotiations between the U.S. and North Korea.
But only hours after the President’s comments in front of the White House, Pyongyang launched two projectiles into the East Sea, according to South Korea’s military. The fifth such missile test in just three weeks, it represented the North’s continued opposition to joint military drills between Washington and Seoul, which the two allies significantly scaled down to accommodate Pyongyang and provide an opening for diplomacy with North Korea, ABC News writes.
Trump downplayed the short-range ballistic missile tests on Friday, saying “there have been no nuclear tests.”
“The missile tests have all been short-range, no ballistic missile tests, no long-range missiles,” he added, despite the Pentagon’s findings that all four rounds were of short-range ballistic missiles.
The launches are also a way for North Korea to demonstrate its military capability, apart from protesting what Kim considers to be “war games” between the U.S. and South Korea.
“He wasn’t happy with the war games … I’ve never liked it, either. You know why? I don’t like paying for it,” Trump also said on Friday.
However, there are no plans, for now, to further scale back military drills, said Defense Secretary Mark Esper, who visited South Korea on Friday, telling the country’s president that the U.S. hopes to schedule denuclearization talks with the North “as early as possible.”
Washington is still waiting for Pyongyang to launch working-level talks, which were previously agreed by Trump and Kim and were initially set to begin around the middle of last month. Analysts note that without working-level negotiations progress is not possible even if another summit between the two leaders takes place.