Trump congratulates Kim Jong Un on managing coronavirus in North Korea

Sunday 22nd March 2020 11:30 GMT

Details of the letter came from the North Korean leadership, which welcomed it as a sign of "the special and very firm personal relations" between Mr Kim and Mr Trump.

The letter reportedly contained praise for Mr Kim's efforts to defend his people from the disease, which has killed thousands of people around the world.

The secretive nation claims it has been spared from the outbreak that originated in neighbouring China, but some observers have questioned whether that can be true.

Mr 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", according to North Korean state news agency KCNA.

It also 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".

It is unclear when the letter was received.

A senior Trump administration official confirmed Mr Trump had sent the letter, adding that it was "consistent with his efforts to engage global leaders during the ongoing (COVID-19) pandemic".

The official added that Mr Trump was looking forward to continued communication with the North Korean dictator.

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The two leaders have met at three summits, the most recent in June last year, but there has been little progress towards getting North Korea to give up its nuclear weapons, one of the US's main goals.

North Korea's aim is to get the US to lift economic sanctions.

Meanwhile, it continues to conduct weapons tests, the latest being the launch of a series of missiles in the past few days.

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