North Korean missile launches over the past week have not affected Donald Trump’s relationship with Kim Jong Un, the US president said on Friday, in a change of course after initially expressing his dissatisfaction.
Pyongyang fired two short-range missiles on Thursday following an earlier drill the previous Saturday, the first in 18 months.
The North had not launched any missiles since November 2017, shortly before once reclusive Kim embarked on diplomatic overtures.
“I don’t consider that a breach of trust at all. And, you know, at some point I may. But at this point no,” Trump said in an interview with Politico.
“These were short-range missiles and very standard stuff. Very standard.”
Twenty-four hours earlier, however, Trump showed his irritation and impatience on an issue where he hopes to succeed while all his predecessors – Republicans and Democrats – have failed.
“Nobody’s happy about it,” he told reporters, in reaction to the launches.
“We’ll see what happens,” Trump added. “I know they want to negotiate, they are talking about negotiating. But I don’t think they are ready to negotiate.”
Will the US president at some point lose faith in Kim? He has met twice with the North Korean leader and claimed that the two have a special friendship and even “love.”
“I mean it’s possible that at some point I will, but right now not at all,” he told Politico.
The first face-to-face historic meeting between the two men in June 2018 in Singapore produced only a vague statement about denuclearisation, allowing both sides to make very different interpretations of it.
February’s second summit, in Hanoi, broke up without a deal after they failed to agree on what Pyongyang would be willing to give up in exchange for sanctions relief.
Since then, Kim has accused Washington of acting in “bad faith” and given it until the end of the year to change its approach.