President Donald Trump said he “probably” has “a very good relationship” with Kim Jong Un but would not say whether he has spoken to the North Korean leader during an interview with The Wall Street Journal Thursday.
“I probably have a very good relationship with Kim Jong Un, ” Trump told the Journal in a 45-minute sit-down at the White House. “I have relationships with people. I think you people are surprised.”
The president, who in recent weeks has alternated between trading taunts with Kim and expressing optimism for diplomacy with North Korea, would not specify whether he’s spoken directly to Kim.
”I don’t want to comment on it. I’m not saying I have or haven’t. I just don’t want to comment,” Trump said.
Trump’s relationship with Kim in his first year has been marked by antagonistic exchanges and threats, with the U.S. president deriding the North Korean leader with the nickname “Lil’ Rocket Man.”
Last week, the combative rhetoric between world leaders reached a fever pitch as the two sparred over the size of their nuclear “buttons.” The fiery exchanges, Trump told the newspaper, were part of his approach to personal relationships with foreign officials.
“You’ll see that a lot with me,” Trump said, “and then all of the sudden somebody’s my best friend. I could give you 20 examples. You could give me 30. I’m a very flexible person.”
Trump has dialed down the disputes with Kim over the past week, expressing a willingness to meet with North Korea to hash out a diplomatic solution to tensions in the Korean Peninsula. According to readout of a Tuesday call with South Korean President Moon Jae-in, Trump said he’d consider establishing a channel of communication with Kim “at the appropriate time, under the right circumstances.”
During the wide-ranging discussion with the Journal, Trump also addressed his falling out with former White House chief strategist Steve Bannon, characterizing the latter’s reported critical remarks about a meeting between Trump campaign officials and a Kremlin-linked lawyer as a form of betrayal.
But Trump declined to say whether the relationship was beyond repair: “We’ll see what happens.”