Putin calls North Korea's Kim Jong-Un 'a competent, mature politician'

Erika Holt
January 13, 2018

"I probably have a very good relationship with Kim Jong Un of North Korea".

Senior Policy Advisor to the Secretary of State Brian Hook said in a telephone briefing to reporters this week that "President Moon has said the improvement of relations between North and South Korea can not advance separately from resolving North Korea's nuclear program, and so we remain focused on our global pressure campaign. I'm not saying I have or I haven't". "China's been helping us a lot, so you can veer a little bit differently, but for the most part everything I have said I have done", he said in response to a question on his electoral promise of being tough on China.

One U.S. official said one option would be to bomb a North Korean missile or nuclear facility based on a "high confidence" intelligence assessment that North Korea planned another test.

"I'm a very flexible person", Trump added.

Washington and Pyongyang are in a stand-off over North Korea's missile and nuclear programmes, which could be used to target the United States and her allies. "But I just don't-", Trump responded.

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Rhetoric on all sides may have moderated as a result of the first round of intra-Korean talks in more than two years on Tuesday, but US officials say hawks in President Donald Trump's administration, up to and including Trump himself, remain pessimistic that they will lead anywhere. "I just don't want to comment", he said. Beijing has imposed limits on oil sales and cut deeply into the North's foreign revenue by ordering North Korean businesses in China to close, sending home migrant workers and banning purchases of its coal, textiles, seafood and other exports.

The pope addressed diplomats a day before North Korea and South Korea are due to hold talks expected to address North Korea's participation in the Pyeongchang Winter Olympics.

Chinese political experts said China was opposed to even limited strikes.

As such, North Korea's neighbours China and Russian Federation are not invited, and many have questioned the utility of a conference where such influential regional players are absent.

Trump discussed North Korea in a call Thursday with French President Emmanuel Macron of France.

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