Donald Trump calls Kim Jong-un ‘very smart’ as he plays down N Korean leader’s human rights record

15-Jun-2018 Intellasia | The Independent | 6:02 AM Print This Post

Donald Trump downplayed concerns about the human rights record of Kim Jong-un after meeting the North Korean leader, praising the authoritarian Kim as “very smart” and “tough”.

While the president has drawn praise for agreeing to a summit with Kim with the aim of dismantling North Korea’s nuclear arsenal, he has also faced criticism for failing to challenge a North Korean regime that is among the world’s most repressive.

Asked during an Air Force One interview with Fox News’s Bret Baier about meeting with a leader who is “clearly executing people”, Trump lauded Kim as a “tough guy” who had demonstrated his prowess by inheriting power as a young man.

“Hey, when you take over a countrytough country, tough peopleand you take it over from your father, I don’t care who you are, what you are, how much of an advantage you haveif you could do that at 27 years old, I mean, that’s one in 10,000 that could do that”, said Trump, who is himself the scion of a powerful family.

Donald Trump and Kim Jong-un walk together before their working lunch during their summit in Singapore (Reuters).

Donald Trump and Kim Jong-un walk together before their working lunch during their summit in Singapore (Reuters).

“So he’s a very smart guy,” Trump added. “He’s a great negotiator”.

Pressed by Baier, who said Kim has “done some really bad things”, Trump responded that “so have a lot of other people”.

“I mean, I could go through a lot of nations where a lot of bad things were done”, Trump said.

As North Korea’s undisputed ruler, Kim presides over a totalitarian state whose tools of control include executions and mass imprisonment of political opponents.

A United Nations inquiry found “systematic, widespread and grave violations of human rights” in the isolated country. Human Rights Watch describes Kim as using “public executions, arbitrary detention, and forced labour” to maintain power and generate “fearful obedience”.

The president has a habit of admiring words for authoritarians, and his statement equating North Korea’s actions with “a lot of other people” recalled controversial remarks in which he defended Russian leader Vladimir Putin after Bill O’Reilly called the premier a “killer”.

“There are a lot of killers. You think our country is so innocent?” Trump asked at the time.

During his interview with Baier, Trump also spoke favourably of Chinese president Xi Jingping becoming de facto “president for life”.

“That’s pretty good”, Trump said.



Category: Korea

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