Trump Unfazed by Recent North Korean Missile Tests

President Donald Trump said he wasn’t bothered by North Korea’s latest round of missile tests and the U.S. wasn’t seeking regime change in Iran, striking conciliatory notes on the two nations’ nuclear programs as he wrapped up his second trip to Japan since taking office, the Wall Street Journal reported.

In a joint press conference Monday alongside Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, Trump said he didn’t think Pyongyang’s recent launches were a violation of United Nations Security Council resolutions while acknowledging disagreement with his advisers over the matter.

“My people think it could have been a violation, as you know. I view it differently,” Trump said, characterizing the tests as possibly an effort by North Korean leader Kim Jong Un to get attention. That contradicted the stance of national security adviser John Bolton, who on Saturday said the launches, most recently on May 9, included weapons that North Korea is banned from testing, the Journal adds.

Abe, in his comments, said the tests violated the Security Council resolution and called them “extremely regrettable.” After a moment’s hesitation, the Japanese leader pivoted to praising the President’s outreach to Kim on denuclearization, which has focused on developing a personal rapport and emphasizing North Korea’s economic potential.

On Saturday Bolton said North Korea hasn’t responded to attempts by the U.S. to resume diplomacy after the collapse of a summit meeting in Hanoi in February. U.S. Special Representative for North Korea Stephen Biegun hasn’t had any contact with his counterparts, Bolton said.

Despite their opposing views on the tests, Trump told reporters he still has confidence in Bolton. Asked earlier this month if he was happy with the counsel he was getting, Trump said while Bolton has “strong views,” he tempers Mr. Bolton’s advice with that of people who “are a little more dovish” before making a decision.

The President was also asked Monday about a tweet in which he said he agreed with North Korean state-media criticism of former Vice President Joe Biden, who is a candidate for the Democratic presidential nomination in 2020. Asked whether he was willing to side with a dictator against a fellow American, Trump said: “Kim Jong-un made a statement that Joe Biden is a low-IQ individual based on his record…I think I agree with him on that.”

A Biden campaign spokesman declined to comment Monday. In a statement last week, the campaign said: “Given Vice President Biden’s record of standing up for American values and interests, it’s no surprise that North Korea would prefer that Donald Trump remain in the White House.”

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