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Donald Trump says Kim Jong-un ‘kept his word,’ downplays North Korea missile testing as minor

President Trump on Tuesday stood by his “very warm” relationship with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, despite the apparent lack of progress in nuclear talks ahead of the one-year anniversary Wednesday of the leaders’ Singapore summit.

Mr. Trump said he recently received a “beautiful” and “very warm” letter from Mr. Kim and held out hope of progress.

“No nuclear testing, no major missile testing. Nothing like when I first got here,” Mr. Trump told White House reporters as he headed to Iowa. “When I first got here, it was a bad mess.”

The president also responded to reports that Mr. Kim’s late half brother was a CIA informant, suggesting espionage wouldn’t have been necessary if previous presidents had a similar relationship with Mr. Kim.

“I would tell him that would not happen under my auspices, that’s for sure,” Mr. Trump said.

Mr. Trump and Mr. Kim were unable to strike a deal on the full denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula during a second summit in Hanoi, Vietnam.

The president has stood by Mr. Kim since their first meeting in Singapore in 2018, despite the North Korean’s strongman tactics and unverified reports he punished his top nuclear negotiators with harsh labor or even death in the wake of failed talks.

Mr. Trump insists there’s been progress, pointing the return of American remains and hostages.

“He’s kept his word to me, that’s really important,” Mr. Trump said.

During a recent trip to Japan, Mr. Trump said North Korea’s recent, short-range missile tests didn’t bother him much, breaking with National Security Adviser John R. Bolton and his hosts, who saw the testing as a violation of U.N. Security Council resolutions.

Mr. Trump is set to meet with South Korean President Moon Jae-in in Seoul later this month to discuss the next steps on North Korea after another visit to Japan, this time for the G-20 summit in Osaka.

The president said another meeting with Mr. Kim, himself, could happen again soon.

“I think that North Korea has tremendous potential,” Mr. Trump said. “The one that feels that more than anyone is Kim Jong-un. He gets it.”

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