Trump defends Kim Jong Un as 'friend' after short-range missile launch

President TrumpDonald John TrumpFive takeaways from the Democratic debate As Buttigieg rises, Biden is still the target Leading Democrats largely pull punches at debate MORE on Friday defended Kim Jong UnKim Jong UnAs Buttigieg rises, Biden is still the target Harris accuses Trump of being 'punked' by North Korea Kamala Harris: 'Donald Trump got punked' by North Korea MORE after North Korea’s third short-range missile launch in just over a week, saying they did not violate the “agreement” he struck last year with the reclusive leader.

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Despite acknowledging the launches may violate United Nations resolutions, Trump expressed confidence that his “friend” Kim “does not want to disappoint me with a violation of trust” and that “there is far too much to lose” for North Korea if Kim does not strike a deal with the U.S.

“Chariman [sic] Kim has a great and beautiful vision for his country, and only the United States, with me as President, can make that vision come true,” Trump tweeted. “He will do the right thing because he is far too smart not to, and he does not want to disappoint his friend, President Trump!”

 

Trump’s message came just hours after reports surfaced that Pyongyang had conducted its test launch, firing what South Korean officials described as short-range ballistic missiles into the Sea of Japan.

Lawmakers and many national security experts have expressed concern that Kim is using his talks with Trump to buy more time to build up his country’s nuclear and ballistic arsenal, rather than offer meaningful concessions in pursuit of a disarmament agreement. 

The Wall Street Journal reported last week that North Korea has continued to develop fissile material and intercontinental ballistic missiles capable of reaching the U.S., citing independent analysis.

But Trump has repeatedly played up what he sees as his close personal relationship with Kim, expressing confidence it will eventually help produce a landmark nuclear agreement.

The president on Thursday also downplayed the short-range missile launches, saying they were “very standard” and not a part of the framework agreement he made with Kim last year at their Singapore summit.

“I think it's very much under control. Very much under control,” he said.