- President Donald Trump on Tuesday again praised North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, describing Kim as “very honorable” and “very open.”
- Trump has in the past mixed praise of Kim with threats, but he has leaned toward praise in recent days.
- Trump is set to become the first sitting US president to meet face-to-face with a North Korean leader.
- Kim has appeared to make a set of stunning concessions and cave to US demands already, but experts are sceptical.
President Donald Trump on Tuesday 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 next month.
“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 signalled an eagerness to meet and conduct diplomacy with Kim, despite spending much of last year threatening to annihilate North Korea in response to Pyongyang’s nuclear provocations.
Since the Winter Olympics earlier this year 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 last month to meet Chinese President Xi Jinping and is scheduled to meet with South Korean President Moon Jae-in later this week.
Trump has also agreed to meet with Kim – announced in March 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 last year 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 last year, 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.
Business Insider Emails & Alerts
Site highlights each day to your inbox.