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Trump praises North Korea after missile tests rattle region

WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump bestowed praise Friday on North Korean leader Kim Jong Un following a flurry of short-range missile tests that rattled the region and lowered expectations for the resumption of nuclear talks between Washington and Pyongyang.

READ MORE: South Korea: North Korea launched more weapons tests

Trump issued a three-part tweet reflecting an approach to North Korea that emphasizes personal diplomacy. Despite widespread skepticism that Kim will give up his nuclear weapons program, Trump is attempting to coax Kim back into negotiations with flattery and by offering to help him achieve a better economic future for his country.

Trump tweeted that North Korea’s recent tests of short-range missiles weren’t part of the commitments he and Kim made at their historic June 2018 summit in Singapore, although he conceded they might be in violation of a U.N. resolution.

“There may be a United Nations violation, but Chairman Kim does not want to disappoint me with a violation of trust,” Trump tweeted. “There is far too much for North Korea to gain – the potential as a Country, under Kim Jong Un’s leadership, is unlimited.”

Trump continued to praise Kim in his tweets, saying he has a “great and beautiful vision for his country.” Trump said that only if he is president can Kim realize that vision.

“He will do the right thing because he is far too smart not to, and he does not want to disappoint his friend, President Trump!”

The North’s new missile launches came as the United Kingdom, France and Germany — following a closed U.N. Security Council briefing — condemned the North’s recent ballistic activity as violations of U.N. sanctions and urged Pyongyang to engage in “meaningful negotiations” with the United States on eliminating its nuclear weapons.

Trump’s chief U.S. envoy to North Korea, Stephen Biegun, had hoped to meet Friday in Thailand with a representative of North Korea. But North Korea stayed away from the annual gathering of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, which has served as a venue for their talks in the past.

Unable to meet with a North Korean official, Biegun met with his Japanese and South Korean counterparts to discuss prospects for resuming stalled denuclearization negotiations with the North.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said earlier Friday that he wished North Korea had sent its foreign minister to the meeting. But he also expressed optimism that talks would resume soon.

“I always look forward to a chance to talk with him,” Pompeo told an audience at the Siam Society. “I wish they’d have come here. I think it would have given us an opportunity to have another set of conversations, and I hope it won’t be too long before I have a chance to do that.”

Pompeo said diplomacy is often fraught with “bumps” and “tos and fros,” but stressed that the Trump administration remains willing to restart the talks, which broke down after Trump’s second summit with Kim in Vietnam in late February.

Trump and Kim met again in June at the Demilitarized Zone between North and South Korea. After that, U.S. officials expressed hope talks would resume in a matter of weeks. Despite that hope, the negotiations have remained stalled.

“We are still fully committed to achieving the outcome that we have laid out — the fully verified denuclearization of North Korea — and to do so through the use of diplomacy,” Pompeo said Friday.

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