President Trump warned Thursday that a “major, major conflict with North Korea” could be on the horizon — but said he would rather settle things diplomatically, though it’s “very difficult.”
Sipping a Coke and speaking to Reuters in the Oval Office, Trump talked unabashedly about the rising tensions between the Hermit Kingdom and the US, amid Pyongyang’s ongoing nuclear threats.
“There is a chance that we could end up having a major, major conflict with North Korea. Absolutely,” the president said. “We’d love to solve things diplomatically, but it’s very difficult.”
Trump also spoke candidly about North Korean leader Kim Jong Un — saying he “hoped” the young dictator would act rationally. He even tried showing the man some compassion.
“He’s 27 years old. His father dies, took over a regime. So say what you want, but that is not easy, especially at that age,” the president explained. “I’m not giving him credit…I’m just saying that’s a very hard thing to do. As to whether or not he’s rational, I have no opinion on it. I hope he’s rational.”
Trump — who ordered the Coke by simply pressing a button on his desk — added that he was confident in Chinese President Xi Jinping and his attempts to rein in the North. The pair met in Florida earlier this month to discuss the situation in the Korean Peninsula.
“I believe he is trying very hard. He certainly doesn’t want to see turmoil and death,” Trump told Reuters. “He doesn’t want to see it. He is a good man. He is a very good man and I got to know him very well.With that being said, he loves China and he loves the people of China. I know he would like to be able to do something, perhaps it’s possible that he can’t.”
White House officials on Wednesday described North Korea as an “urgent” threat to national security and a “top foreign policy priority.” They said the Trump Administration was ultimately focused on coming to an economic and diplomatic solution.
Experts say any direct military action taken by the US would likely result in a massive retaliatory strike from the North — leading to mass casualties in Japan and South Korea.
Trump said Thursday he wants to work closely with China and other allies to maintain peace in the region, insisting he wouldn’t make a drastic decision without consulting them.
“My problem is that I have established a very good personal relationship with President Xi,” the president said. “I really feel that he is doing everything in his power to help us with a big situation. So I wouldn’t want to be causing difficulty right now for him. So I would certainly want to speak to him first.”
With Post Wires