SEOUL, South Korea — North Korea said on Saturday that President Trump had sent birthday greetings to its leader, Kim Jong-un, but added that the rapport between the two leaders would not help resolve their countries’ nuclear standoff.
Ever since his first summit meeting with Mr. Kim, in June 2018, Mr. Trump has repeatedly flaunted his “good relationship” with the North’s leader, calling Mr. Kim “smart” and even going so far as to say that he and Mr. Kim “fell in love.”
The two leaders have also exchanged personal letters and dispatched special envoys to each other’s capitals, but talks on how to denuclearize the North remains deadlocked.
On Saturday, Kim Kye-gwan, a senior aide to Mr. Kim, confirmed that Mr. Trump had sent a personal letter to Mr. Kim for his birthday. (Mr. Kim is believed to have turned 36 on Wednesday. ) He also acknowledged that the “personal relations” between Mr. Kim and Mr. Trump were “not bad,” but said Mr. Kim “would not discuss the state affairs on the basis of such personal feelings. ”
“Although Chairman Kim Jong-un has good personal feelings about President Trump, they are, in the true sense of the word, ‘personal,’” the official said in a statement carried by the North’s official Korean Central News Agency.
Chung Eui-yong, the national security adviser for President Moon Jae-in of South Korea, told reporters on Friday that Mr. Trump asked Seoul this past week to relay his birthday greetings to Mr. Kim. But Kim Kye-gwan said that a letter from Mr. Trump had already been delivered to Pyongyang directly from the Americans, calling South Korea “presumptuous” for seeking to act as an intermediary between Mr. Kim and Mr. Trump.
North Korea also hardened its position toward Washington on Saturday, calling the past one and a half years of on-and-off negotiations a “lost time.”
The denuclearization talks collapsed when Mr. Kim and Mr. Trump met in Vietnam in February 2018 for a second summit meeting and Mr. Trump rejected Mr. Kim’s offer to dismantle one of the North’s nuclear fuel-production facilities if Washington lifted international sanctions. Mr. Trump insisted on a more comprehensive rollback of North Korea’s nuclear program.
Mr. Kim said recently that he no longer expected the United States to ease sanctions. Instead, he vowed to expand his country’s nuclear force, warning that North Korea no longer felt bound by a self-imposed moratorium on nuclear and long-range ballistic missile tests.
“There will never be such negotiations as that in Vietnam, in which we proposed exchanging a core nuclear facility of the country for the lift of some U.N. sanctions,” Kim Kye-gwan said on Saturday. “We know well about the way we should go and will go on our way.”