World

White House pushes back over Trump N. Korea quote

WASHINGTON The White House has denied and corrected a quote attributed to President Donald Trump that suggested he had a good relationship with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.

"I probably have a very good relationship with Kim Jong Un," Mr Trump was quoted as telling The Wall Street Journal (WSJ) in an interview on Thursday.

But Press Secretary Sarah Sanders insisted on Saturday that he had said "I'd," not "I" as the newspaper reported.

Both WSJ and the White House posted audio recordings of Mr Trump's remarks on Twitter. These, while not completely clear, appeared to support Ms Sanders' account.

She had earlier tweeted a written message disputing the newspaper's article.

"President Trump said, I'D probably have a very good relationship with Kim Jong Un of North Korea. I'D - I'D - I'D. NOT I!" the message read, with "I'D" in red ink, under a red banner reading "FAKE NEWS".

Mockingly mimicking the WSJ front page, it then reads "THE WALL STREET JOURNAL - FAKE NEWS IS AT IT AGAIN! - FALSELY QUOTING PRESIDENT TRUMP."

Washington and Pyongyang are in a stand-off over North Korea's missile and nuclear programmes, which could be used to target the United States and its allies.

Mr Trump has repeatedly insulted the North Korean leader, describing him as mad and as "little rocket man".

Asked by WSJ if he had spoken to Mr Kim, Mr Trump said: "I don't want to comment on it. I'm not saying I have or haven't. I just don't want to comment."

Trump suggested his variable position on individuals was part of a broader strategy.

But it was not clear how his remarks fitted with his self-described policy of "maximum pressure" on Pyongyang.

In the coming week the US and Canada are to host a meeting in Vancouver on the nuclear stand-off with North Korea, bringing together friendly powers from around the world. - AFP

WORLD