01:19 - Source: CNN
Trump and Putin to meet on Asia trip

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During the campaign Trump spoke of meeting with Kim

North Korea issue is expected to dominate Trump's Asia tour

CNN —  

US President Donald Trump has indicated he may be willing to meet Kim Jong Un at some point, though he said it was “far too early” for a one-on-one conversation with the North Korean leader.

Speaking to a US television program Sunday about the North Korea issue, Trump said he was happy to “sit down with anybody.”

Asked if he would “ever consider sitting down with a dictator,” Trump told Full Measure he would “certainly be open to doing that.”

“I would sit with anybody I feel. I don’t think it’s strength or weakness. I think sitting down with people is not a bad thing,” he said.

The comments contrast with Trump’s previously antagonistic remarks in which he threatened to “totally destroy” North Korea if it moves against the US or its allies.

Last month, he admonished US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson for attempting to negotiate with Kim.

“I told Rex Tillerson, our wonderful Secretary of State, that he is wasting his time trying to negotiate with Little Rocket Man,” Trump tweeted, adding “we’ll do what has to be done!”

Trump’s position on North Korea had appeared to harden in recent months in light of Pyongyang’s rapidly advancing missile program. Since February, North Korea has fired 22 missiles during 15 tests, further perfecting its technology with each launch.

Prior to becoming President, Trump had maintained he would have “no problem” sitting down with the North Korean leader, at one point even suggesting they could meet for a hamburger.

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Trump’s comments Sunday came at the start of his Asia trip, during which the North Korea issue is sure to dominate.

Asia trip

The US President said he would discuss the matter with his Russian counterpart, Vladimir Putin, when the two leaders meet on the sidelines of a summit for Asia-Pacific leaders in Vietnam later this week.

“We want Putin’s help on North Korea, and we’ll be meeting with a lot of different leaders,” Trump told reporters aboard Air Force One en route to Japan.

Before Trump sees Putin in the Vietnamese seaside city of Da Nang, he will have visited three Asian capitals on his North Korea diplomacy mission. After talks here with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, Trump will head to Seoul and Beijing for state visits that are also set to include discussions of trade and security.

That trip may coincide with the US designating North Korea a state sponsor of terror. A senior administration official said that decision will be made “very soon.”

“The administration and Secretary (of State Rex) Tillerson and others in the administration are looking very closely right now whether to designate North Korea a state sponsor of terror,” the official said Sunday. “I would expect an answer very quickly.”

When asked whether that meant an announcement would come during Trump’s trip, the official only said: “Stay tuned.”

CNN’s Kevin Liptak contributed reporting.