Trump says relationship with N. Korea’s Kim ‘remains good’
WASHINGTON, March 8, 2019 (BSS/AFP) – US President Donald Trump said Friday his relationship with North Korea’s Kim Jong Un “remains good,” despite the failure of a summit last week between the two leaders.
North Korea’s state media had earlier acknowledged for the first time the collapse of the high-stakes Hanoi summit, which ended without any agreement on reducing Pyongyang’s nuclear program in exchange for sanctions relief.
“I have a feeling that our relationship with North Korea, Kim Jong Un and myself, I think it is a very good one. I think it remains good,” Trump told reporters at the White House.
The meeting was supposed to build on the leaders’ historic first meeting in Singapore last year.
Trump repeated his frequent claim that he had brought the US back from the brink of war with North Korea since coming to office.
“This was a disaster. I inherited a mess. It is straightening out a lot. We are doing very well there,” he said.
“I inherited a mess with North Korea and right now you have no (missile) testing. You have no nothing.”
Following the stalemate in Hanoi, researchers said this week that Pyongyang had started rebuilding the Sohae long-range rocket site after Kim had agreed last year to shut it as part of confidence-building measures.
“I would be surprised in a negative way if (Kim) did anything that was not per our understanding. But we’ll see what happens,” Trump added.
– ‘Tough time’ for Manafort –
Trump’s remarks, which came as he was departing the White House to visit tornado-hit Alabama, also touched on the fractious US-China trade relationship, domestic politics and the Mueller investigation into possible Trump campaign collusion with Russia.
Asked about the months-long trade war with China, the president said he would not agree to any solution unless it was a good deal for the United States.
“I am confident but… if this isn’t a great deal, I won’t make a deal,” Trump told reporters.
US and Chinese officials have said they are making progress toward a resolution, but a US diplomat in Beijing said earlier an agreement was not imminent.
Negotiations were extended through Sunday as officials race to reach a deal ahead of a deadline next week when US duty rates are due to rise sharply.
Trump’s remarks came a day after his former campaign chief Paul Manafort was sentenced to nearly four years in prison by a federal judge for tax crimes and bank fraud in the highest profile case yet stemming from Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation.
“I feel very badly for Paul Manafort. I think it has been a very tough time for him,” Trump said.
The Republican president also weighed in on the row engulfing the Democrats over anti-Semitism which has led to the party’s biggest crisis since reclaiming the House majority two months ago.
The party passed a resolution against bigotry following an acrimonious debate over how to reprimand Minnesota Democrat Ilhan Omar, who sparked a firestorm over repeated criticisms of Israel and a powerful pro-Israel lobby in Washington that exerts influence in US politics.
“The Democrats have become an anti-Israel party and an anti-Jewish party,” Trump said.
The president was due to visit victims of last weekend’s tornado that devastated Lee County in eastern Alabama last weekend, killing at least 23 people and injuring dozens.