Kim and Trump have 'special' relationship: KCNA

Kim's comments echo remarks made by Trump as countries struggle to restart talks on the North's nuclear programme.

    US President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, meeting at the DMZ earlier this year, say they have a 'special" relationship. [File: Kevin Lamarque/Reuters]
    US President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, meeting at the DMZ earlier this year, say they have a 'special" relationship. [File: Kevin Lamarque/Reuters]

    North Korea's leader Kim Jong Un and United States President Donald Trump have a "special" relationship, a top Pyongyang official said on Thursday, echoing remarks made this week by Trump himself. 

    Analysts said the comments were an indication Pyongyang still hoped to reach a deal directly with Trump over its nuclear programmes, despite Washington's long-standing insistence the country give up its weapons before sanctions are lifted.

    In a statement carried by North Korea's official news agency KCNA, foreign ministry adviser Kim Kye Gwan said he had met the country's leader "a few days ago" and that Kim had "said that the relationship between him and President Trump is special".

    The comments came just days after Trump said of Kim: "I like him. He likes me. We get along. I respect him. He respects me."

    Analysts say the North is looking to exploit the relationship between Kim and Trump - a former property developer who sees himself as a master negotiator - to secure US concessions in nuclear talks.

    Focus on Trump

    It has previously praised Trump's "extraordinary courage" while repeatedly demanding Washington come forward with a "new method" by the end of this year.

    Pyongyang understands US officials will oppose the lifting of sanctions before denuclearisation and therefore it wants to "negotiate directly with Trump", Koh Yu-hwan, a professor of North Korean studies at Dongguk University in Seoul, told AFP.

    "The North is sending a message that unless Trump makes the call, the talks will fall through and that they are now at a crossroads," he said.

    Adviser Kim told KCNA that Washington policymakers were hostile to Pyongyang and "preoccupied with the Cold War mentality and ideological prejudice".

    "I sincerely hope that a motive force to overcome all the obstacles ... will be provided on the basis of the close relationship," he added.

    After trading threats of war and insults in 2017, the two leaders held a high-profile summit in Singapore last year, with Kim signing a vague pledge to work towards "denuclearisation of the Korean Peninsula".

    But negotiations stalled after an unsuccessful second summit in Hanoi in February, and earlier this month the North broke off the latest round of working-level talks in Sweden.

    SOURCE: AFP news agency