President Donald Trump said Monday he is not “personally” bothered by recent short-range North Korean missile tests and doesn’t believe they violated U.N. Security Council resolutions, breaking with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who is hosting the president on a four-day state visit full of pageantry and pomp.
Trump also continued his attacks against former Vice President and 2020 Democratic hopeful Joe Biden, siding with North Korea’s Kim Jong Un, who recently criticized Biden as having a low IQ.
The visit was designed to highlight the U.S.-Japan alliance and showcase the warm relations between the leaders. Trump said he and Abe deliberated over economic issues, including trade and Iran, during hours of talks at the Akasaka Palace. But North Korea’s recent firing of short-range missiles emerged as an area of disagreement at a press conference Monday.
Asked if he was bothered by the missile tests, Trump said: “No, I’m not. I am personally not.”
Japan has long voiced concern about short-range missiles because of the threat they pose to the Island nation’s security.
Donald Trump also said he disagrees with the assessment of many experts — as well as his own national security adviser — that the tests violate U.N. Security Council resolutions.
“My people think it could have been a violation,” Donald Trump said. “I view it differently. I view it as a man — perhaps he wants to get attention and perhaps not. Who knows?”
Standing beside Trump at a news conference held after hours of talks, Abe, who has forged a strong friendship with Trump and showered him with praise throughout the day, disagreed with the U.S. president, saying the missile tests were “of great regret.”
The Republican president has sought to downplay the significance of the missile tests, even though his own national security adviser, John Bolton, said over the weekend that they violated the U.N. resolutions.
Trump was invited to Japan to be the first world leader to meet with the country’s new emperor . And despite being far from Washington, he didn’t miss the chance to lob another broadside against Biden. Trump didn’t hold back at the news conference, telling the world he agreed with the authoritarian North Korean leader’s assessment of Biden and declaring himself “not a fan.”
“Kim Jong Un made a statement that Joe Biden is a low-IQ individual,” Trump said. “He probably is based on his record. I think I agree with him on that.”
U.S. officeholders have in the past generally avoided engaging in politics while on foreign soil, hewing to the adage that politics stops at the water’s edge. But Trump’s sharp attack on Biden, through his declaration of agreement with Kim, set aside that long-standing norm.
Biden, during a recent campaign event, accused Trump of cozying up to “dictators and tyrants” like Kim.
Trump continues to hold out hope of getting Kim to agree to give up his nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles, even though the two summits he’s had with the North Korean leader have produced no concrete pledge to denuclearize the Korean peninsula.
Trump praised Kim, calling him a “smart man” who might have launched the missiles earlier this month to “get attention.”
“All I know is there have been no nuclear tests, no ballistic missiles going out, no long-range missiles going out, and I think that someday we’ll have a deal,” Trump said, adding that he is in “no rush.”