While emoting sympathy for Kim Jong Un's situation, President Trump told Reuters, during a lengthy interview ahead of his 100th day in office, that he'd "love to solve things diplomatically," but warned that "there is a chance that we could end up having a major, major conflict with North Korea."
Putting a somewhat human face on the North Korean leader, President Trump had an interesting response when asked by Reuters if he considered North Korean leader Kim Jong Un to be rational...
"He's 27 years old. His father dies, took over a regime. So say what you want but that is not easy, especially at that age.
"I'm not giving him credit or not giving him credit, I'm just saying that's a very hard thing to do. As to whether or not he's rational, I have no opinion on it. I hope he's rational."
And that is perhaps why he stil holds out hope for a path that avoids the military option...
"We'd love to solve things diplomatically but it's very difficult,"
Emphasizing the possibility of new sanctions, and in particular leverage from China..
"I have established a very good personal relationship with President Xi"
"I believe he is trying very hard. He certainly doesn’t want to see turmoil and death. He doesn’t want to see it. He is a good man. He is a very good man and I got to know him very well."
Still, as Reuters notes, just a day after he and his top national security advisers briefed U.S. lawmakers declaring North Korea "an urgent national security threat and top foreign policy priority;" and one day before Secretary of State Rex Tillerson will press the United Nations Security Council on sanctions to further isolate Pyongyang over its nuclear and missile programs, it's clear where this could lead...
"There is a chance that we could end up having a major, major conflict with North Korea. Absolutely."
U.S. officials said military strikes remained an option but played down the prospect, though the administration has sent an aircraft carrier and a nuclear-powered submarine to the region in a show of force.