PHOENIX — US President Donald Trump said Tuesday his aggressive rhetoric towards North Korea was beginning to bear fruit and that Kim Jong-Un had started to “respect” the United States.
“Some people said it was too strong. It’s not strong enough,” he told a gathering of thousands of supporters at a campaign style rally in Phoenix, Arizona. “But Kim Jong-Un, I respect the fact that I believe he is starting to respect us. I respect that fact very much.
“And maybe, probably not, but maybe something positive can come about. They won’t tell you that. But maybe something positive can come about,” he added.
His comments echoed those of his Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, who earlier in the day acknowledged Pyongyang’s recent “restraint” in not carrying out fresh nuclear or missile tests in response to tough new UN sanctions.
“I am pleased to see that the regime in Pyongyang has certainly demonstrated some level of restraint that we’ve not seen in the past,” Tillerson said at a rare press conference, adding that talks may be possible “in the near future.”
Tensions between North Korea and the United States and its allies soared last month after Pyongyang tested two long-range missiles that appeared to bring US cities within its range.
Trump vowed to respond with “fire and fury,” raising fears of a devastating regional conflict, and the UN Security Council scrambled to impose new punitive measures on the North.
Kim’s regime later postponed a threat to fire missiles towards the US Pacific island territory of Guam, and Washington said it would be open to dialogue if Pyongyang were to take steps to calm tensions.