President Donald Trump on April 24, 2018, again praised North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, saying Kim was “very honorable” and “very open” ahead of a planned meeting between the two leaders that could come as soon as May 2018.
“Kim Jong Un, he really has been very open and I think very honorable from everything we’re seeing,” Trump told reporters amid a White House visit by French President Emmanuel Macron, adding that the North Koreans wanted such a meeting “as soon as possible.”
Trump has signaled an eagerness to meet and conduct diplomacy with Kim, despite spending much of 2017 threatening to annihilate North Korea in response to Pyongyang’s nuclear provocations.
Since the Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea, and sweeping rounds of US-led sanctions after North Korean nuclear and missile tests, Kim has also apparently opened up to diplomacy.
Kim unexpectedly went to Beijing in March 2018, to meet Chinese President Xi Jinping and is scheduled to meet with South Korean President Moon Jae-in in late April 2018.
Trump has also agreed to meet with Kim — announced in March 2018, by South Korean officials visiting the US — though it appears he did so without first consulting his secretary of state at the time, Rex Tillerson.
Trump said in 2017, that he’d be “honored” to talk to Kim — something he now looks likely to achieve.
Trump has also expressed admiration for Kim’s leadership of North Korea, though human-rights groups have accused the government of numerous violations, including running prison camps that have been likened to Auschwitz in Nazi-controlled Europe.
Trump said of Kim in January 2016: “You’ve got to give him credit. How many young guys — he was like 26 or 25 when his father died — take over these tough generals, and all of a sudden… he goes in, he takes over, and he’s the boss.”
In an interview with Reuters in 2017, Trump again noted Kim’s youth when he became leader.
“Say what you want, but that is not easy, especially at that age,” Trump said.
Trump is set to become the first sitting US president to meet face-to-face with a North Korean leader. Meanwhile, Kim has appeared to make a set of stunning concessions and cave to US demands of denuclearization already.
But experts Business Insider has talked to have noted that North Korea has previously entered into and backed out of talks with the US and said it now may be working to gain relief from sanctions as its economy falters.
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