President Donald Trump is in the Philippines, participating in the ASEAN summit in Manila, the last stop on his Asian trip. The White House says President Trump will bring up human rights issues when he meets with Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte in Manila. President Trump has said little about human rights abuses in meetings with world leaders.
On Sunday, Trump openly entertained the possibility that he could become friends with North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un, even as he admitted it would be a strange thing if it were to happen.
“I think anything is a possibility,” Trump said Sunday during a joint press conference with the president of Vietnam. “Strange things happen in life, that might be a strange thing to happen, but it’s certainly a possibility.”
The president’s comment came in response to a reporter’s question about a tweet he sent earlier in the day in which he first expressed hope that “someday” he could be friends with Kim, while also offering a back-handed insult to the dictator by saying he would never call him “short and fat.”
The president went on to say that “if that did happen, it would be a good thing” for North Korea and the world.
“Certainly it is something that could happen. I don’t know that it will, but it would be very, very nice if it did,” the president said. The president’s comments came during the fourth stop of a marathon five-country tour of Asia, during which he has repeatedly emphasized that the complete demilitarization of North Korea is a top priority for the United States and its allies in the region.
The president has warned North Korea’s leader against testing the resolve of the United States and its allies to act militarily if necessary, and accused North Korea of “threatening millions of lives so needlessly” with persisting in its nuclear ambitions. Trump previously threatened “fire and fury” and the total annihilation of North Korea, but refrained from using some of his hotter rhetoric during his Asia tour.
During a press conference with South Korean President Moon Jae-in last week, the president expressed hope that a deal could even be made with the hermit kingdom.
“I really believe that it makes sense for North Korea to come to the table and to make a deal,” the president said in a press conference with Moon. “That’s good for the people of North Korea and the people of the world.”
He added that he sees “certain movement” in his administration’s approach to get Pyongyang to back down from its nuclear program.