Trump downplays North Korea projectile launch

The president of the United States, Donald Trump. EPA-EFE/File

WASHINGTON.- The president of the United States on Saturday played down the importance of North Korea’s launch of short-range projectiles, saying he does not believe the Asian nation’s leader would jeopardize a potential nuclear disarmament deal.

Donald Trump made his remarks on Twitter, referring to North Korea’s leader, Kim Jong-un.

«Anything in this very interesting world is possible, but I believe that Kim Jong Un fully realizes the great economic potential of North Korea, & will do nothing to interfere or end it. He also knows that I am with him & does not want to break his promise to me. Deal will happen!»

South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff initially said Saturday that North Korea had launched a single short-range missile off its east coast but later made two amendments to its report.

The JCS’s first correction said Pyongyang had conducted a series of short-range missile tests, while the second one said short-range projectiles – not missiles – had been launched.

That latest update reduced the seriousness of the fresh test. A missile launch would have been Pyongyang’s first since an intercontinental ballistic missile test in 2017.

Even so, the weapons test was the second to be carried out by the North Korean armed forces over the past several weeks.

In mid-April, the North Korean media said Kim had supervised the test of a new tactical guided weapon, a report that appeared intended for both the North Korean public and Washington after a late February Kim-Trump summit in Hanoi ended without a deal on Pyongyang’s nuclear disarmament.

The Pentagon said then that the test launch did not trigger a change in «our posture or our operations.»

Trump also said Saturday on Twitter that he was optimistic about relations between Washington and Moscow after a telephone call on Friday with Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin.

«Very good call yesterday with President Putin of Russia. Tremendous potential for a good/great relationship with Russia, despite what you read and see in the Fake News Media,» the president wrote.

Among other things, the two leaders talked about the ongoing political crisis in Venezuela and also discussed a possible new nuclear agreement encompassing the US, Russia and China.

Russia’s support for leftist Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro and Washington’s demand for his ouster and its backing of self-proclaimed interim head of state Juan Guaido has been a new source of tension in the two nuclear powers’ bilateral relationship.

But Trump told reporters after his phone call with Putin that the two men agreed on the need for «something positive» to happen in that South American nation.

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