President Trump said he would be “honored” to meet North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un “under the right circumstances,” even as the regime vowed to launch a nuclear test “at any time and at any location.”
“If it would be appropriate for me to meet with him, I would absolutely, I would be honored to do it,” Trump told Bloomberg News yesterday. “If it’s under the, again, under the right circumstances. But I would do that.”
Asked about Trump’s choice of the word “honored” to describe a dictator who has starved his own people and threatened the United States, White House press secretary Sean Spicer told reporters Trump was trying to be “diplomatic” toward a fellow world leader.
“I guess because he’s still a head of state,” said Spicer. “So it is sort of — there is a diplomatic piece to this. But the bottom line is the president is going to do what he has to do.”
Spicer added that the circumstances don’t currently exist for Trump to hold a meeting with the dictator and would likely require North Korea to completely dismantle its nuclear capability.
Still, Trump’s comments came on the heels of his apparent praise of the wildly unpredictable North Korean leader as a “smart cookie” in an interview with CBS News.
“At a very young age, he was able to assume power,” said Trump. “A lot of people, I’m sure, tried to take that power away, whether it was his uncle or anybody else. And he was able to do it. So obviously, he’s a pretty smart cookie.”
But tensions in the region showed no signs of easing after weeks of build-up. North Korea, which test-launched a ballistic missile on Friday that ended in failure, vowed through its foreign ministry that it would execute a nuclear test “at any time and at any location” and is “fully ready to respond to any option taken by the U.S.”
Meanwhile, the U.S. plans another test-launch of a nuclear-capable intercontinental ballistic missile on Wednesday from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California, according to Fox News.
The U.S. test-launched a similar Minuteman III long-range missile last week from the same location, traveling 4,200 miles before landing in the Pacific Ocean.
The Trump administration has voiced a preference for using diplomatic pressure to force Kim into abandoning his nuclear program. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson at the United Nations on Friday called for tougher sanctions and for other countries to sever ties with North Korea.
But Trump also has been sending indirect messages to Kim, such as launching dozens of Tomahawk missiles at an airbase in Syria and dropping the largest non-nuclear bomb against an ISIS cave complex in Afghanistan.
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