Trump: 'Major Conflict' With N. Korea Possible
Tillerson says Kim Jong Un 'isn't insane'
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 28, 2017 5:26 AM CDT
Updated Apr 28, 2017 6:52 AM CDT
The aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson, center, leads other US warships toward the Korean Peninsula for an exercise with South Korea.   (Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Sean M. Castellano/US Navy via AP)
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(Newser) – President Trump says he wants to resolve America's differences with Pyongyang peacefully—but there is the chance we "could end up having a major, major conflict with North Korea." Trump tells Reuters that the country is currently his biggest international worry. Asked whether he considers Kim Jong Un rational, Trump said it would have been tough for the leader to take over the country at 27 after his father died. "I'm not giving him credit or not giving him credit, I'm just saying that's a very hard thing to do. As to whether or not he's rational, I have no opinion on it. I hope he's rational." In other developments:

  • Rex Tillerson told Fox News on Thursday that he believes Kim is ruthless but sane, Politico reports. "He may be a murderer. He may be someone who in many respects we would say by our standards is irrational," the secretary of state said. "But he is not insane."

  • Tillerson also said China had threatened North Korea with sanctions if it carried out further nuclear tests. "We know that China is in communications with the regime in Pyongyang," he said. "They confirmed to us that they had requested the regime conduct no further nuclear tests." The Guardian reports that China refused to confirm or deny the claim.
  • In the Reuters interview, Trump praised Chinese President Xi Jinping's efforts to help rein in North Korea. "I believe he is trying very hard. He certainly doesn't want to see turmoil and death," Trump said. "He is a good man. He is a very good man and I got to know him very well."
  • Foreign ministers from the Association of Southeast Asian Nations issued a statement Friday calling for calm, the AP reports. They expressed "grave concern" over North Korea's nuclear tests and urged all parties to "exercise self-restraint in order to de-escalate the tension and refrain from actions that may aggravate the situation." Ministers from the 10-nation bloc will meet in Manila in the Philippines on Saturday.
  • In a second interview Thursday, Tillerson, who will chair a UN Security Council meeting on the issue Friday, told NPR that the US is open to holding direct talks with North Korea if Pyongyang agrees to consider giving up its nuclear weapons. "We do not seek a collapse of the regime," he said. "We do not seek an accelerated reunification of the peninsula. We seek a denuclearized Korean peninsula."
  • North Korea released a new propaganda video Thursday that showed simulated attacks on the US, with the White House and aircraft carriers in the crosshairs, the Washington Post reports. "We will show you what a strong country that leads the world in nuclear and missile technology is capable of," a caption said.
(Beijing is rumored to be behind a serious gas shortage in Pyongyang.)

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