North Korea says it won't restart nuke talks despite Trump's birthday message to Kim

“Although Chairman Kim Jong Un has good personal feelings about President Trump, they are, in the true sense of the word, ‘personal’,” foreign ministry adviser Kim Kye Gwan said Saturday.
Image: Donald Trump and Kim Jong Un
Trump took an unprecedented step onto North Korean soil last summer, but nuclear negotiations have stalled since.Saul Loeb / AFP - Getty Images file

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By Isobel van Hagen

Despite birthday wishes from President Donald Trump this week, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un is seemingly in no mood to put aside their differences and restart nuclear talks.

Kim’s personal feelings are not sufficient to return to past diplomacy, foreign ministry adviser Kim Kye Gwan said Saturday.

“Although Chairman Kim Jong Un has good personal feelings about President Trump, they are, in the true sense of the word, ‘personal’,” he said, according to state news agency KCNA.

The 36-year-old would not lead his country on the sole basis of personal sentiment, he added.

On Friday, a South Korean official said Trump had asked the South Koreans to pass a message of good wishes to Kim, whose birthday is believed to be Jan. 8.

But Kim Kye Gwan retorted Saturday that Pyongyang had already received Trump’s message directly from the Americans and it was “presumptuous” for the South to involve themselves.

The adviser’s comments come amid growing uncertainty about the future of now-stalled diplomatic talks between the two countries.

“We have been deceived by the United States,” he said, describing the period during which Trump and Kim held a series of unprecedented summits as “lost time."

Kim, North Korea's leader, had given Washington until the end of 2019 to make new concessions in talks over the country's nuclear arsenal. He said it was "entirely up to the U.S. what Christmas gift it will select to get."

While Christmas passed with no sign of aggression from North Korea, Kim did open the new year referring to the U.S. policy toward Pyongyang as “hostile.”

Satellite images had suggested the country was expanding a factory linked to the production of long-range nuclear missiles.

North Korea will not give up its nuclear facilities in exchange for partial sanctions relief, and will only return to talks when the U.S. makes concessions, the foreign ministry adviser said Saturday.

Until then it would refuse to discuss the issue, Kim Kye Gwan said.