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Pyongyang says no letter recently sent by North's leader Kim Jong-un to Trump

The file photo shows US President Donald Trump (R) and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un as they are sitting at a dinner table in the Vietnamese capital Hanoi on February 27, 2019.

North Korea has denied that its leader, Kim Jong-un, has recently sent a letter to US President Donald Trump.

The American president on Saturday said during a press conference that he had recently received a "nice note" from Kim, stressing that Washington was "doing just fine with North Korea."

However, the press chief of North Korea's Foreign Ministry on Sunday dismissed the claim as "ungrounded" in a statement carried by the country's state-run news agency, KCNA, stressing, "Our Supreme Leadership in recent days never sent the US president any letters."

The statement further accused Trump of exploiting the two leaders' relations for political purposes.

“The relations between the top leaders of the DPRK (Democratic People’s Republic of Korea) and the US are not an issue to be taken up just for diversion, nor should it be misused for meeting selfish purposes,” the official added, who was cited as a Foreign Ministry press chief but whose name was not mentioned. 

The two leaders, once each other's arch-enemies, have in the past exchanged several letters, the latest of which was by Trump to Kim last month, in which he hailed the the North Korean leader’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic and reportedly “expressed his intent” to cooperate on the matter.

That March letter was first reported by KCNA, with Pyongyang calling it a sign of “special and very firm personal relations” between Trump and Kim, despite recent friction.

Elsewhere in the statement, the North Korean official spoke of a US media report and said that Trump "could have referred to the personal letters that had been exchanged in the past, we are not sure.”

Separately on Sunday, Reuters quoted an unnamed official from South Korea’s presidential office that the American president mentioned the claimed letter to South Korean President Moon Jae-in during a phone call with him a day earlier.

Trump has attempted to de-escalate tensions with Pyongyang, and although he has met with Kim three times, he has refused to relieve any of the harsh sanctions on the North over its nuclear and ballistic missile programs, and that has in turn hampered demilitarization efforts.

In December last year, Kim ended a moratorium on North Korea’s missile tests, because the country had been offered no sanctions relief.

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