Trump calls Kim Jong Un a ‘pretty smart cookie’

President Trump praised North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un as a “pretty smart cookie” but sternly said he “would not be happy” if the rogue strongman conducts another nuclear test.

Trump, during a wide-ranging interview with CBS’ “Face the Nation,” actually complimented the unpredictable Kim, whose recent missile tests have prompted strong condemnation from the White House and other world leaders, for having held onto power after assuming it as such a young age.

“People are saying, ‘Is he sane?’ I have no idea. I can tell you this, and a lot of people don’t like when I say it, but he was a young man of 26 or 27 when he took over from his father, when his father died. He’s dealing with obviously very tough people, in particular the generals and others,” Trump said.

“And at a very young age, he was able to assume power. 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 added.

North Korea test-fires missile as tensions flare with U.S.

“But we have a situation that … we cannot let what’s been going on for a long period of years continue,” Trump added, referring to escalating nuclear tensions on the Korean Peninsula.

President Trump paid an unexpected compliment to Korean leader Kim Jong Un.

President Trump paid an unexpected compliment to Korean leader Kim Jong Un.

(CARLOS BARRIA/REUTERS)

“If he does a nuclear test, I will not be happy. And I can tell you also, I don’t believe that the president of China, who is a very respected man, will be happy either,” Trump said.

When host John Dickerson prodded to see whether that meant Trump was considering military action, the President indicated he hadn’t ruled such an option out.

“I don’t know. I mean, we’ll see,” he said.

U.S. tries diplomacy as North Korea’s third missile launch fails

Other top White House advisers, meanwhile, took a tougher approach Sunday.

National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster said the regime “poses a grave threat to the United States, our great allies in the region, South Korea and Japan…but also to China and others.

“This is something that we know we cannot tolerate…The President has made clear that he is going to resolve this issue one way or another,” McMaster said on “Fox News Sunday.”

White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus added that “there is nothing right now facing this country and facing the region that is a bigger threat than what’s happening in North Korea” during an interview with ABC’s “This Week.”

Trump declares he can handle Kim Jong Un without China

And Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) said the U.S. should not rule out a preemptive strike on Pyongyang

National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster said North Korea poses a “grave threat” to the United States and our allies.

National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster said North Korea poses a “grave threat” to the United States and our allies.

(CARLOS BARRIA/REUTERS)

“I think that we have to consider that option as the very last option, and for a number of reasons,” he said on CNN’s “State of the Union.”

On Saturday, a North Korean fired another mid-range ballistic missile, but it failed shortly after launch — the third test-fire flop this month.

But the regime’s failure to stop testing missiles has prompted Trump to deploy a nuclear-powered submarine and the USS Carl Vinson aircraft supercarrier to Korean waters

The U.S. and South Korea have also started installing a missile defense system designed to be partially operational within days.

Tags:
donald trump
donald trump first 100 days
kim jong-un
north korea
nuclear weapons
john mccain
henry mcmaster

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