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Trump floats friendship with North Korea’s Kim after fresh barb

In this April 15, 2017, file photo, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un waves during a military parade in Pyongyang, North Korea. North Korea’s nuclear and missile programs have without doubt come at a severe cost. Even so, the North has managed to march ever closer to having an arsenal capable of attacking targets in the region and _ as demonstrated by its July 4 ICBM test launch _ the United States’ mainland. (AP Photo/Wong Maye-E, File)

U.S. President Donald Trump said it was “certainly a possibility” that he could become friends with Kim Jong Un, hours after insulting the North Korean leader on Twitter.

“Certainly, it is something that could happen,” Trump said Sunday in Hanoi, Vietnam, when asked about the possibility of becoming friends with Kim. “I don’t know that it will, but it would be very, very nice if it did.”

Earlier in the day, Trump, 71, continued his war of words with Kim, who is believed to be 33. The U.S. leader was in Hanoi on an 11-day swing through Asia.

“Why would Kim Jong-un insult me by calling me ‘old,’ when I would NEVER call him ‘short and fat?’” Trump tweeted earlier Sunday. “Oh well, I try so hard to be his friend — and maybe someday that will happen!”

In recent days, North Korean state media have taken to referring to Trump’s age. The Minju Joson newspaper said in a commentary last week, “The U.S. must oust the lunatic old man from power and withdraw the hostile policy towards the DPRK at once in order to get rid of the abyss of doom,” it said, referring to the isolated state’s formal name.

Trump last week told South Korea’s parliament that the dictator had turned North Korea into “a hell that no person deserves.”

The president listed a litany of alleged human-rights abuses under Kim and called him a “deranged tyrant” presiding over a “cult.” The previous day Trump appeared to temper his often fiery rhetoric toward North Korea, instead calling for it to “make a deal” on its nuclear and ballistic missile programs.

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said Friday that he could envision the U.S. and North Korea agreeing to hold talks at some point as a precursor to formal negotiations.

“Strange things happen in life — that might be a strange thing to happen,” Trump said on Sunday. “But it’s certainly a possibility. If that did happen it would be a good thing for — I can tell you — North Korea. But it would also be good for lots of other places and it would be good for the world.”

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© 2017 Bloomberg News

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