Trump would be 'honored' to meet North Korea's leader
May 02 2017
The North has carried out 50 known ballistic missile tests and three nuclear experiments since leader Kim Jong-un came to power in 2011.
In an Oval Office interview Monday with Bloomberg News, Trump said of Kim, "If it would be appropriate for me to meet with him, I would absolutely, I would be honored to do it".
Trump said during the presidential campaign that he would be willing to meet with Kim Jong Un, explaining in June that "there's a 10% or 20% chance that I can talk him out of those damn nukes 'cause who the hell wants him to have nukes". If it's under the, again, under the right circumstances.
"I'll speak to anybody", Trump said then.
Tension has been high in the region over fears North Korea will try and fire a long-range missile test or a sixth nuclear test- since the April 15 anniversary of the state's founder's birth. Trump is hoping China can pressure the North into a peaceful denuclearization.
The dispatch of the Carl Vinson was a "reckless action of the war maniacs aimed at an extremely unsafe nuclear war", the Rodong Sinmun, the official newspaper of North Korea's ruling Workers' Party, said.
North Korea's "measures for bolstering the nuclear force to the maximum will be taken in a consecutive and successive way at any moment and any place decided by its supreme leadership", the spokesman said, apparently referring to a new nuclear test. North Korea is testing ballistic missiles, seeking the ability to deliver a nuclear weapon as far as the continental U.S.
Pyongyang intensifies its warnings every spring, when Washington and Seoul carry out joint exercises it condemns as rehearsals for invasion.
His comments received criticism from both sides of the aisle at the time, and since Trump has become president, top officials in his administration have taken a more equivocal position on the issue.
The joint drills have just ended, but naval exercises are continuing in the Sea of Japan (East Sea) with a U.S. strike group led by the aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson, and US B1-B bombers carried out bilateral missions with South Korean and Japanese aircraft in the region Monday.
The U.S. Embassy in Seoul has confirmed that the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency director visited South Korea on Monday amid heightened tensions on the Korean Peninsula.
The reclusive state unsuccessfully test-fired a ballistic missile, South Korea's military said, defying intense pressure from the U.S. and main ally, China.
The anti-missile system is not expected to be fully operational until the end of the year, but US and South Korean officials publicly stressed the need to speed up the deployment of the technology as tensions mounted with Pyongyang. South Korea has also regularly warned that the North can carry out a test whenever it chooses to do so.
"In case of a nuclear war on the peninsula, Japan that houses logistic bases, launching bases and sortie bases of the U.S. forces will be put under radioactive clouds before any country", North Korean state-run newspaper Rodong Sinmun wrote.
But echoing Trump's gentler tone, Spicer said Kim had "managed to lead a country forward" from a young age.
"So obviously, he's a pretty smart cookie", he said.
White House press secretary Sean Spicer, however, said later on Monday that the U.S. would first need to see changes in North Korean behavior before a potential sit-down.