U.S. President Donald Trump called Kim Jong Un “very honorable” during a press conference with French President Emmanuel Macron in Washington.
Trump’s comments mark a dramatic turnaround from when the U.S. President referred to Kim as “Rocket Man” in September last year.
“(Kim) really has been very open and, I think, very honorable from everything we’re seeing,” Trump said during the press conference.
The President’s change in tone comes after a diplomatic swerve from Pyongyang, which has agreed to summits with both Seoul and Washington.
A summit between Kim and South Korean President Moon Jae-in is set for later this week, and the North’s denuclearization appears to be on the agenda.
Trump added once again that preparations for his own summit with Kim appear to be on track though did not provide additional details on location or date.
“We have been told directly that they would like to have the meeting as soon as possible. We think that’s a great thing for the world,” Trump said.
The U.S. President also praised his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping for helping with sanctions enforcement and keeping a tight border with the DPRK.
China is the main conduit for over 90 percent of North Korea’s trade, though also the primary avenue for DPRK sanctions evasion.
“President Xi has been very strong in helping us to solve this problem, in his case at the border. He’s allowing very little to get through,” Trump told assembled reporters.
Trump credited his good relationship with Beijing as one of the reasons for Xi’s cooperation, though added this his hardball approach to trade with China also played a part.
In the run-up to the summits with North Korea, questions have swirled around whether Pyongyang, Seoul, and Washington are defining “denuclearization” differently.
When the DPRK announced on Friday that it was suspending nuclear and missile tests, it also called its existing nuclear stockpile a “a powerful treasured sword for defending peace,” and indicated it was interested in global nuclear disarmament.
But answering a question on Monday as to what he meant by denuclearization, Trump said he had a very simple definition.
“It means they get rid of their nukes. Very simple. It would be very easy for me to make a simple deal and claim victory,” Trump said.
“I don’t want to do that. I want them to get rid of their nukes.”
Edited by Oliver Hotham
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Featured Image: Donald Trump by Gage Skidmore on 2018-02-23 08:29:18