Trump open to US-NKorea talks 'under right circumstances'

Transcript of Donald Trump Interview With The Wall Street Journal

Kim Jong-un and Donald Trump have a "very good relationship", the USA president suggested last night, in remarks that appeared to signal a new openness to diplomacy with North Korea.

"I probably have a very good relationship with Kim Jong-un", he told The Wall Street Journal in an interview.

"I have relationships with people", Trump continued. "I think you people are surprised", Trump said, bragging about his relationship with Kim. "I like it very much". The North's attempts for clandestine purchase of vital fuel have been hit by firm action by South Korea when it seized two ships, which had delivered fuel to North Korean vessels on the high seas.

Trump has previously scoffed at the futility of talking with the North, but when the inter-Korean dialogue was proposed last week he claimed credit and declared in a tweet, "talks are a good thing".

Pairs figure skaters Ryom Tae-Ok and Kim Ju-Sik are the only North Korean athletes to have so far qualified for Pyeongchang 2018.

North Korea on Friday called on both the United States and South Korea to suspend bilateral military drills.

"We have certainly problems with North Korea", Trump said at a news conference. The White House statement did not mention that, nor Trump's assurance that military force would not happen while the two Koreas continue to talk.

North Korea is starting off the year with a fresh diplomatic initiative aimed at wooing South Korea ahead of its hosting of next month's Winter Olympics. The point is Moon may not be a pushover for the North though he dreams of his place in modern Korean history as the one who brought about North-South rapprochement.

That announcement followed talks with South Korean negotiators - the first between the two countries in years.

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The enormous delegation to the Pyeongchang Winter Olympics will be divided into groups of high-ranking officials, members of the national Olympic committee, athletes, cheerleaders, observers, reporters and performance artists.

We welcome the many signs of peace in the Korean Peninsula, highlighted by the agreement between North and South Korea to hold official talks - the first ones in the last two years - in Panmunjom, the truce village on the border of the two Koreas.

The US has had no official contacts with North Korea for years. The North said this was not on the table.

Still, the Pentagon's moves send a signal that, even amid efforts to dial back tensions, the USA remains "ready to fight tonight" if necessary, Pentagon spokeswoman Dana White said Thursday, invoking a slogan of American forces in South Korea.

In part, some analysts suspect South Korea's enthusiasm for diplomacy now is in part to avoid embarrassment or incidents during the Winter Olympics, which they fear might otherwise be disrupted by North Korean terrorism or cyber attacks.

The U.S. and South Korea have stepped up an worldwide pressure campaign against North Korea in recent months in an effort to force Pyongyang to abandon its nuclear ambitions. There may be signs of a thaw on the Korean peninsula but thaw in the frozen relations between the United States and North Korea are nowhere on the horizon.

Trump's public response to the intra-Korean meeting has been mostly positive though at times tinged with skepticism.

North and South have been totally separated since the end of the Korean War in 1953, with no direct telephone or postal links between them.

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