Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump said Tuesday he is willing to talk to North Korea’s leader to try to stop Pyongyang’s nuclear program.
The presumptive Republican nominee declined to share details of his plans to deal with Pyongyang, but in what would be a major shift in U.S. policy said he was open to talking to Kim Jong Un.
“I would speak to him, I would have no problem speaking to him,” he told Reuters in a wide-ranging interview.
Asked whether he would try to talk some sense into the North Korean leader, Trump replied: “Absolutely.”
North Korea’s mission to the United Nations did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Trump, 69, also said he would press China, Pyongyang’s only major diplomatic and economic supporter, to help find a solution.
“I would put a lot of pressure on China because economically we have tremendous power over China,” he said in the interview in his office on the 26th floor of Trump Tower in Manhattan. “China can solve that problem with one meeting or one phone call.”
Trump’s preparedness to talk directly with Kim contrasts with President Barack Obama’s policy of relying on senior U.S. officials to talk to senior North Korean officials.
A South Korean foreign ministry official said it and the United States were committed to denuclearization as the top priority of any dialog with North Korea. “North Korea must cease threats and provocations and show with action its sincere commitment to denuclearization,” the official said by telephone.
Obama has not engaged personally with Kim, but he has pushed for new diplomatic overtures to Iran and Cuba that produced a nuclear deal with Tehran and improved ties with Havana.
Trump tempered past praise of President Vladimir Putin, saying the nice comments the Russian leader has made about him in the past would only go so far.
“The fact that he said good things about me doesn’t mean that it’s going to help him in a negotiation. It won’t help him at all,” he said.
An adviser to Hillary Clinton, the leading Democratic presidential candidate, criticized Trump’s foreign policy comments, noting they came soon after Trump said he was unlikely to have a good relationship with British Prime Minister David Cameron.“Let me get this straight: Donald Trump insults the leader of our closest ally, then turns around and says he’d love to talk to Kim Jong Un?” Clinton’s senior foreign policy adviser, Jake Sullivan, said in a statement.
Trump “seems to have a bizarre fascination with foreign strongmen like Putin and Kim. But his approach to foreign policy makes no sense for the rest of us,” Sullivan said.
Trump also said he is “not a big fan” of the Paris climate accord, which prescribes reductions in carbon emissions by more than 170 countries. He said he would want to renegotiate the deal because it treats the United States unfairly and gives favorable treatment to countries like China.
“I will be looking at that very, very seriously, and at a minimum I will be renegotiating those agreements, at a minimum. And at a maximum I may do something else,” Trump said.