Drastically changing his tone regarding North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, President Donald Trump left behind terms like “maniac” and “little rocket man” to praise the dictator as “very open” and “very honorable” on Tuesday.
"We're having very, very good discussions," Trump said during a bilateral meeting with President Emmanuel Macron of France in the White House Cabinet Room. "Kim Jong Un was — he really has been very open. I think very honorable, from everything we're seeing."
Asked to clarify his compliments at a joint press conference with Macron later on Tuesday, Trump said the tone of his yet-to-be-scheduled historic sit-down with Kim is "going to be very positive," and refused to speculate on the outcome the meeting.
The two leaders have sparred occasionally since Trump took office, but both have toned down the rhetoric ahead of talks.
Trump’s use of the word “honorable” comes as a surprise, considering the nature of Kim’s leadership:
The Kim family and the Worker’s Party of Korea have ruled North Korea for seven decades, and it remains one of the world’s most repressive authoritarian states, according to the Human Rights Watch’s annual World Report.
A United Nations report on human rights under Kim’s regime found that his government’s crimes against humanity included enslavement, extermination, forced abortion, imprisonment, murder, rape and other forms of sexual violence, and torture.