Trump downplays North Korea missile testing, vouches for Kim as a ‘friend’

US President Donald Trump gestures as he meets with North Korea's leader Kim Jong Un at the start of their historic US-North Korea summit at the Capella Hotel on Sentosa island in Singapore

Trump's statement came after Pyongyang test-fired a new short-range ballistic missile on Friday.

In the past week, North Korea has again begun testing missile launches reportedly in response to planned USA military exercises.

Kim "has a great and lovely vision for his country", Trump continued, but "only the United States, with me as President, can make that vision come true".

"He will do the right thing because he is far too smart not to, and he does not want to disappoint his friend, President Trump!". Trump said of Kim Jong Un.

President Trump said Friday that North Korea's recent flurry of missile tests possibly violated United Nations resolutions but did not break his agreement North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un, whom he called a friend.

Until the tests conducted over the past week, Trump had regularly touted a lull of more than 18 months without a North Korean nuclear or long-range missile test as a chief achievement of his unorthodox outreach to Kim.

South Korea's presidential office had said the USA and South Korean militaries shared an assessment that Friday's launches were likely of short-range ballistic missiles.

The North's new missile launches came as the United Kingdom, France, and Germany-following a closed U.N. Security Council briefing-condemned the North's recent ballistic activity as violations of U.N. sanctions and urged Pyongyang to engage in "meaningful negotiations" with the United States on eliminating its nuclear weapons.

Trump has said the United States would have been war with North Korea if he hadn't made a breakthrough with Kim.

North Korea is today absent from the annual Association of Southeast Asian Nations forum in Bangkok, which has in the past served as a venue for talks between Washington and Pyongyang. Still, the missiles do have the range to reach targets in South Korea and nearby USA assets, raising the level of instability in the region and creating new hurdles for any future talks. But he also expressed optimism that talks would resume soon. "I think it would have given us an opportunity to have another set of conversations, and I hope it won't be too long before I have a chance to do that".

Kim first announced an informal freeze on testing nuclear weapons and intercontinental ballistic missiles in April of a year ago, just as he and Trump were embarking on what has become a historic peace process created to denuclearize the Korean Peninsula in exchange for peace, security and the lifting of sanctions. While Kim had halted missile tests for two years as negotiations with the Trump administration appeared to be moving forward, those talks stalled in February when the USA insisted on complete denuclearization before any sanctions relief would be possible.

"We are still fully committed to achieving the outcome that we have laid out - the fully verified denuclearisation of North Korea - and to do so through the use of diplomacy", Mr Pompeo said.



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