North Korea Says Donald Trump Sent Kim Jong Un a Letter Offering Coronavirus Aid: Report
President Donald Trump reportedly sent a letter to North Korean leader Kim Jong Un offering assistance to the isolated country during global efforts to slow the novel coronavirus pandemic.
According to The New York Times, North Korean officials announced some details of the letter via the country’s state-run Korean Central News Agency.
The White House confirmed Trump sent a letter to North Korea, according to the Times, though it did not cite specifics of what the letter said. (A White House spokeswoman did not respond to PEOPLE’s request for comment.)
Kim Yo-jong, Kim’s sister and one of his policy aides, said Trump “wished the family of the Chairman and our people well-being,” according to the Times.
“I would like to extend sincere gratitude to the U.S. president for sending his invariable faith to the Chairman,” Yo-jong reportedly said.
The novel coronavirus had infected more than 350,000 people worldwide as of Monday afternoon, with more than 15,000 deaths.
North Korea has not officially reported cases of the viruses, though experts believe it is unlikely the highly infectious respiratory illness has not reached the country.
South Korea had reported nearly 9,000 confirmed cases and 111 deaths as of Monday.
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President Trump, 73, has long sought to bridge a relationship with North Korea’s leader via an unconventional form of face-to-face diplomacy — meeting with Kim in Singapore in 2018 and sharing letters back and forth following their summit.
Trump once expressed that he and Kim “fell in love,” saying that the North Korean leader wrote him “beautiful letters.”
The two tried to hold another summit last February before negotiations fell through over U.S. pressure on North Korea over its nuclear ambitions.
Trump and Kim have met three times during Trump’s presidency, with the latest coming in June when Trump became the first U.S. president to step foot on North Korean soil when he briefly escorted the leader back into his country’s territory, according to NPR, after they met for about an hour in the Demilitarized Zone that separates North and South Korea.
On Sunday, Kim’s sister reportedly said that Kim “appreciated the personal letter” from Trump.
“We try to hope for the day when the relations between the two countries would be as good as the ones between the two top leaders, but it has to be left to time and be watched whether it can actually happen,” she said. “However, we will never lose or waste time for nothing, but will keep changing ourselves to be more powerful for that time just as how we made ourselves for the past two years.”
To prevent the spread of the coronavirus, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention encourages maintaining basic forms of hygiene including careful hand washing, avoiding touching the face, moving away from people who are coughing or sneezing and staying home at signs of illness.
Health officials have also urged people around the country to practice “social distancing” and avoid gatherings and stay home as much as possible to slow new infections.
As information about the coronavirus pandemic rapidly changes, PEOPLE is committed to providing the most recent data in our coverage. Some of the information in this story may have changed after publication. For the latest on COVID-19, readers are encouraged to use online resources from CDC, WHO, and local public health departments and visit our coronavirus hub.
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