The US president, Donald Trump, said in a tweet on Sunday that North Korean leader Kim Jong-un had insulted him by calling him “old” and said he would never call Kim “short and fat”.
In one of a series of tweets after attending the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit in Vietnam, Trump said: “Why would Kim Jong-un insult me by calling me ‘old,’ when I would NEVER call him ‘short and fat?’ Oh well, I try so hard to be his friend – and maybe someday that will happen!”
Trump has been working to rally global pressure against North Korea’s nuclear weapons program on the trip to Asia. In a stern speech delivered in South Korea’s National Assembly on Tuesday, he said: “Do not underestimate us. And do not try us … The weapons you’re acquiring are not making you safer, they are putting your regime in grave danger. Every step you take down this dark path increases the peril you face.”
On Saturday, the North’s Foreign Ministry responded in a statement: “Reckless remarks by an old lunatic like Trump will never scare us or stop our advance. On the contrary, all this makes us more sure that our choice to promote economic construction at the same time as building up our nuclear force is all the more righteous, and it pushes us to speed up the effort to complete our nuclear force.”
At a news conference in Vietnam on Sunday after his tweets, Trump said it was possible he could be friends with Kim one day and that it would be “very, very nice” but he was not sure that it would happen.
Asked if he could see himself being friends with Kim, Trump said: “That might be a strange thing to happen but it’s a possibility. If it did happen it could be a good thing, I can tell you, for North Korea, but it could also be good for a lot of other places and be good for the rest the world. It could be something that could happen. I don’t know if it will but it would be very, very nice.”
Trump has traded insults and threats with Kim in the past amid escalating tensions over Pyongyang’s nuclear and missile programs. North Korea conducted its sixth and most powerful nuclear bomb test on September 3, prompting another round of UN sanctions.
In the series of tweets Trump also said the Chinese president, Xi Jinping, was “upping sanctions” on North Korea in response to its nuclear and missile programs and that Xi wants Pyongyang to “denuclearize”.