US President Donald Trump sent a letter to North Korean leader Kim Jong Un detailing a plan for developing relationships. State media reported on Sunday, citing Kim's powerful sister, but warned that their good personal relationship was not enough as there was a pause in the disarmament talks.
Kim Yo Jong's statement came a day after the nuclear-armed north fired two short-range ballistic missiles off its east coast on Saturday. It was the last such action he took this year.
"In the letter, he explained … his plan to advance relations between the DPRK and the United States and expressed his intention to work together to fight epidemics," an obvious reference to the Jong coronavirus pandemic said in the statement by the Korean Central News Agency (KCNA).
A senior government official confirmed that Trump had sent a letter to Kim, "in line with his efforts to involve world leaders during the ongoing pandemic.
"The president looks forward to further communication with chairman Kim," said the official.
While the letter reflects "excellent" relationships between the two leaders, Jong warned that the broader relationships between their two nations are different.
"We are trying to hope for the day when relations between the two countries are as good as those between the top two leaders, but it is important to take the time to see whether this can actually happen," said Jong.
According to analysts, the north has continued to improve its weapons capabilities more than a year after the collapse of a Kim and Trump summit in Hanoi. The dead end is about sanction relief and what North Korea would be willing to give up in return.
Pyongyang is subject to several sanctions from the United Nations, the United States and other sanctions for its weapons programs.
Jong praised Trump's "efforts to maintain good relations with our chairman by sending another personal letter at a time when there are great difficulties and challenges in developing bilateral relations."
But she said, "Nobody knows how much personal relationships will change and guide future relations between the two countries, and it's not a good idea to jump to conclusions or be optimistic."
Trump, whose proximity to Kim and other strong men around the world have expressed concerns at home, is aiming for re-election in the November US election.
Jong said the bilateral dialogue "would only be conceivable if the balance was maintained dynamically and morally, and justice between the two countries was ensured, not only through the personal letter between the two leaders."
Pyongyang set a unilateral deadline for Washington to make new concessions by the end of 2019, and in late December Kim said the north was no longer bound by its moratoriums on nuclear and intercontinental ballistic missile testing.
On Saturday, Kim observed "the demonstration fire of (a) tactical weapons" to demonstrate the properties "and the power of a new weapon system to be delivered to army units," KCNA reported on Sunday.
In addition, Kim spoke of "tactical and strategic weapon systems in the development phase," the report said.
At the end of last year, Kim had soon threatened to demonstrate a "new strategic weapon".
After the final test, a U.S. State Department official repeated Washington's call to the north to "avoid provocations, meet the obligations under the UN Security Council resolutions, and return to sustainable and substantive negotiations to contribute to full denuclearization" .
The Department of Unification of Seoul said earlier this month that the exercises are aimed at strengthening "internal solidarity" while "attracting the attention of the United States and South Korea and putting pressure on their changing attitudes."
Shortly before the last launch, KCNA reported that the stamp parliament, the Supreme People's Assembly, would meet on April 10.
According to analysts, the event would gather nearly 700 officials in one place. Such events have been banned in many parts of the world to curb the spread of the new coronavirus.
Leif-Eric Easley, a professor at Ewha University in Seoul, previously told AFP that Pyongyang is likely to be struggling with the pandemic even though the regime has not reported any cases.
The UN Security Council has announced that it will make humanitarian exemptions from sanctions against North Korea to combat the corona virus.
(Except for the headline, this story was not edited by NDTV staff and published from a syndicated feed.)