President Donald Trump said Saturday that he would be open to speaking with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.
"I always believe in talking," Trump said Saturday when asked if he would speak to Kim by phone. "We have a very firm stance — look, our stance, you know what it is. We're very firm, but ... absolutely I would do that."
When asked whether there would be no prerequisites, the president responded: "That's not what I said at all."
Trump, speaking to reporters after a meeting at Camp David, claimed credit for announced talks between North and South Korea that are to include discussions about the PyeongChang Winter Olympics.
"Right now they're talking Olympics. It's a start. It's a big start," Trump said. "If I weren't involved, they wouldn't be talking about Olympics right now." Trump has made similar statements on Twitter this week. There has been speculation that Kim used the prospect of talks to drive a wedge between South Korea and the United States.
Tensions have risen between Trump and Kim over North Korea’s ballistic missile and nuclear weapons program, and a nuclear test which North Korea conducted in September.
Kim in a New Year’s Day address boasted that the United States is within range of its nuclear weapons and "a nuclear button is always on my desk." Trump responded on Twitter this week that "I too have a Nuclear Button, but it is a much bigger & more powerful one than his, and my Button works!"
Trump said Saturday of Kim: "He knows I'm not messing around. I'm not messing around. Not even a little bit, not even one percent. He understands that." But Trump said the U.S. is working on a peaceful solution.
"We're working on it with Rex," Trump said, referring to Secretary of State Rex Tillerson. "We're working on it with a lot of people. If something can happen and something can come out of those talks, that would be a great thing for all of humanity."
Tillerson said Friday that talks between North and South Korea show the U.S.-led campaign to isolate North Korea is working.
"It's an indication the pressure campaign is causing the leadership, the regime in North Korea to begin to think about, 'This can't go on forever,'" Tillerson said in an interview with the Associated Press.
A North Korean representative to the International Olympics Committee said Saturday that his country would most likely participate in the Winter Games, according to Japan's Kyodo News agency.
North Korea’s state-run media KCNA published a commentary dated Saturday local time that called Trump a "war maniac" and threatened the United States with destruction if it attacks the country.
The commentary from an official state-run newspaper published by KCNA does not refer to Trump’s comments at Camp David (which happened early Sunday Pyongyang time) but appears to refer to a national security strategy unveiled by Trump in December.
Also Sunday, a South Korean Unification Ministry official said contact between the South and North was made on a cross-border diplomatic hotline. The North Koreans sent their delegation list for the upcoming talks scheduled for Jan. 9, the official said.
The once-suspended hotline is up and running for the first time in nearly two years.