N Korea’s Kim offers rare praise for South’s departing Moon


North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has thanked South Korea’s outgoing president for trying to improve relations, a rare gesture of goodwill but one that analysts said may not be enough to head off growing tension between the two Koreas.

The warm words from North Korea to President Moon Jae-in came in an exchange of letters less than three weeks before Moon leaves office to be replaced by a conservative leader who has already signalled a tougher line on North Korea.

Analysts were sceptical that North Korea’s mes-sage heralded a broader improvement in relations, and warned that the praise for Moon could be a bid to portray his successor, Yoon Suk-yeol, as responsible for any further deterioration in ties.

North Korean state media was the first to report the exchange and the unexpected North Korean plaudits for the stalled effort by Moon and his liberal administration to engage.

“Kim Jong Un appreciated the pains and effort taken by Moon Jae-in for the great cause of the na-tion until the last days of his term of office,” North Korea’s KCNA state news agency reported.

The exchange of letters was an “expression of their deep trust”, it said. The letters come against a backdrop of tension since a failed North Korea-US summit in 2019, exacerbated last month when North Korea launched intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBM), ending a self-imposed 2017 moratorium.—AP


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