Is President-elect Donald Trump looking to get on friendly terms with North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un?
The question surrounding the relationship between the future president of the United States and the North Korean dictator has resurfaced following Trump’s presidential win Wednesday morning. It may be a valid one, given Trump’s friendliness towards Russia’s Vladimir Putin and Kim’s willingness to strengthen ties between Pyongyang and Russia.
Back in August, Kim extended a friendly message to Putin in observance of the anniversary of North Korea's defeat of Japan at the end of World War II.
Where Putin is concerned, Trump has expressed that, as president, he would have a “very good relationship” with the Russian leader. At a national security forum this past September, Trump said "the man has very strong control over the country,” according to ABC News. Following the announcement of Trump’s presidential win, Putin extended his congratulations to the future U.S. leader.
With Trump’s election, many wonder if the billionaire will also follow through on previous comments he made about his willingness to speak to the North Korean leader. Contrary to President Barack Obama’s policy of refusing to talk directly with Kim, Trump has expressed interest in meeting with the ruler -- on his own turf.
In an interview with Reuters in May, Trump suggested that he would be willing to negotiate the Pyongyang’s nuclear program, saying he would “absolutely” speak with the North Korean leader. However, Trump maintained that he would not be visiting North Korea.
“I wouldn’t go to North Korea, Joe, I wouldn’t go there,” Trump told Morning Joe host Joe Scarborough in an interview, according to US News.
During Trump’s campaign, the tycoon made remarks about North Korea’s nuclear program and described Kim as a “maniac.” He's also suggested China could "make that guy disappear."
“We can’t play games with him,” Trump said in January while visiting Iowa. “Because he really does have missiles. And he really does have nukes.”
In Geneva, North Korea ambassador So Se Pyong had dismissed Trump’s comments about speaking with the North Korean leader as being “just a gesture for the presidential election,” Reuters reported in May. "It’s up to the decision of my supreme leader whether he decides to meet or not, but I think his [Trump’s] idea of talk is nonsense,” So said at the time.
Ultimately, Bruce Klingner, a research fellow studying Northeast Asia at the Heritage Foundation, told Business Insider it's "difficult if not impossible" to forecast what Trump will do in Asia. Trump is simply "in unchartered territory" going forward, Klingner said.