WASHINGTON – President Donald Trump acknowledged renewed hostility with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un over their denuclearization talks on Saturday, but predicted their relationship would survive anyway.
“I have a very good relationship with Kim Jong Un,” Trump told reporters at the White House as he left for Hollywood, Florida, and a conference sponsored by the Israeli-American Council.
“I think we both want to keep it that way.”
Trump’s statement comes after North Korea signaled it would no longer consider denuclearization and after its officials this week lobbed insults at the U.S. president.
North Korea’s ambassador to the United Nations said a denuclearization agreement with the United States is off the negotiating table, and new talks with Trump are not needed.
“We do not need to have lengthy talks with the U.S. now and denuclearization is already gone out of the negotiating table,” Ambassador Kim Song said in a statement to Reuters.
Trump also drew a string of attacks from the North Korean government this week, including a revival of name-calling.
The president’s recent criticisms of Kim “must really be diagnosed as the relapse of the dotage of a dotard,” the foreign ministry said.
Earlier this week, North Korean army chief of staff Pak Jong Chon said in a statement that Kim was “displeased” with “undesirable remarks” Trump made during his visit to NATO meetings in London.
Asked about North Korea’s continued missile tests on Tuesday, Trump said the U.S. still has the most powerful military in the world and would use it against Kim’s regime “if we have to.”
Trump and Kim have had two summits, but have been unable to strike a comprehensive agreement in which North Korea agrees to give up its nuclear weapons.
Telling reporters he would be surprised if “North Korea acted hostilely,” Trump also noted that Kim knows he faces a U.S. re-election bid next year.
“I have an election coming up,” Trump said. “I don’t think he wants to interfere with that.”