US President Donald Trump said Monday he would be willing to meet with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un “under the right circumstances” to defuse tensions over North Korea’s nuclear program.
“If it would be appropriate for me to meet with him, I would absolutely, I would be honored to do it,” Trump told Bloomberg News in an interview Monday. “If it’s under the, again, under the right circumstances. But I would do that.” No sitting US president has ever before met with the leader of North Korea while in power, and the idea is extremely controversial.
White House press secretary Sean Spicer, however, said later on Monday that the US would first need to see changes in North Korean behavior before a potential sit-down.
“We’ve got to see their provocative behavior ratcheted down immediately,” Spicer said. “Clearly, the conditions are not there right now.” Spicer also offered an explanation for Trump’s view, expressed to CBS, that Kim is a “smart cookie.”
“He assumed power at a young age when his father passed,” Spicer said. “There was a lot of potential threats that could have come his way. He’s managed to lead a country forward, despite the concerns that we and so many people have.
He is a young person to be leading a country with nuclear weapons.”
Trump’s comment about meeting Kim comes as tensions have risen in recent months between the US and North Korea as Pyongyang has sought to advance its nuclear and ballistic missile programs and Washington has made a show of force in the region to deter their use.