Trump calls North Korean leader ‘a pretty smart cookie’ – but isn’t sure if he’s sane

The comments came as both North and South Korea tested missiles over the weekend.


Source: Face The Nation/YouTube

US PRESIDENT DONALD Trump offered some backhanded praise for North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un, calling him “a pretty smart cookie” in a television interview that aired today.

Trump’s almost admiring remarks came amid soaring tensions with North Korea over its missile and nuclear programmes, with an alarmed Washington looking to China for help in reining in Kim.

Trump said he had “no idea” whether Kim was sane or not, but said the North Korean leader had faced a formidable challenge in taking over the country at a reported age of 27 after his father’s death in 2011.

“He’s dealing with obviously very tough people, in particular the generals and others. And at a very young age, he was able to assume power,” Trump said in the interview with CBS’s Face the Nation.

A lot of people, I’m sure, tried to take that power away, whether it was his uncle or anybody else. And he was able to do it.

“So obviously, he’s a pretty smart cookie,” he said.

Japan Koreas Tension
Source: Koji Sasahara/PA Images

“But we have a situation that we just cannot let – we cannot let what’s been going on for a long period of years continue,” Trump added.

He then blamed the Obama, Bush and Clinton administration for “not taking care of” the North Korean situation before.

North Korea test-fired another missile yesterday, the latest in a drumbeat that has aroused US fears that the regime may be close to developing an intercontinental ballistic missile capable of hitting the US mainland with a nuclear warhead.

South Korea said the latest test was a failure. Trump refused comment on whether the United States had anything to do with the test failure.

It is a chess game. I just don’t want people to know what my thinking is. So eventually, he will have a better delivery system. And if that happens, we can’t allow it to happen.

His interview on Face the Nation marks Trump’s first 100 days in office, and covers a wide range of issues including allegations of Russian hacking, Medicare and what he’s learned in his first few months as US President.


Source: Face The Nation/YouTube

Practice conflict

South Korea and the United States wrapped up their annual large-scale military drills on Sunday, but continued a separate joint naval exercise that has triggered dire threats from nuclear-armed North Korea.

Tensions on the Korean peninsula have been running sky-high for weeks, with signs that the North might be preparing a long-range missile launch or a sixth nuclear test – and with Washington refusing to rule out a military strike in response.

The massive ‘Foal Eagle’ drill, which the defence ministry in Seoul said was ending as scheduled on Sunday, involved around 20,000 South Korean and 10,000 US troops.

Another annual joint exercise known as ‘Key Resolve’ ended last month.

Both play out scenarios for a conflict with North Korea, but Seoul and Washington insist they are purely defensive in nature, despite Pyongyang’s claims that they are provocative rehearsals for invasion.

Hours before yesterday’s test by North Korea, US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson warned of “catastrophic consequences” if the international community does not act more forcefully to sanction Pyongyang.

© – AFP 2017