WASHINGTON - President Trump waved away concerns about North Korea's human rights record and described Kim Jong Un as a "tough guy" in an interview with Fox News.
Speaking aboard Air Force One before he departed Singapore after the summit on North Korea, Trump acknowledged executions carried out by Kim but said "so have a lot of other people done some really bad things."
The interviewed aired Wednesday night.
"He is a tough guy," Trump said of Kim.
"When you take over a country, a tough country, tough people, and you take it over from your father, I don't care who you are, what you are, how much of an advantage you have," Trump said. "This is a smart guy, a great negotiator, but I think we understand each other."
Critics have questioned how aggressively Trump pressed Kim on human rights during their historic summit this week, and whether the president would demand changes before lifting sanctions or reducing the U.S. military presence on the Korean Peninsula.
Trump said he discussed the issue with Kim during their meetings, but he did not say whether Kim made any concessions on the point.
A year ago the pundits & talking heads, people that couldn’t do the job before, were begging for conciliation and peace - “please meet, don’t go to war.” Now that we meet and have a great relationship with Kim Jong Un, the same haters shout out, “you shouldn’t meet, do not meet!”- Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 13, 2018
"I mean, I can go through a lot of nations where a lot of bad things were done,' Trump said.
"Now, look, with all of that being said, the answer is 'yes,'' Trump said, responding to Fox News' Bret Baier's assertion that Kim was responsible for human right abuses.
"I'm going from today," Trump said. "I'm going from maybe 90 days ago.'
Trump's response was similar to the language he used during a press conference in Singapore at the summit's conclusion.
"It's rough,' Trump said then of the human rights situation in North Korea. "It's rough in a lot of places, by the way - not just there. But it's rough.'
A United Nations Human Rights Council report in 2014 found widespread use of murder, torture and rape in the country. The scope of human rights violations, the report found, "does not have any parallel in the contemporary world.'
Kim Jong Un, dubbed the "Great Successor" as early as 2010, assumed the leadership of the Workers Party of Korea in 2011, on the death of his father, Kim Jong Il.
In December 2013, his uncle, Jang Song Thaek, was arrested and executed as a "traitor for all ages," according to the state news media, Yonghap reported.
In 2017, his exiled half-brother, Kim Jong Nam, was assassinated with the nerve agent VX while walking through a terminal at Kuala Lumpur International Airport, according to the BBC.
Trump also told Fox that a U.S. military draw-down from South Korea was "never on the table' heading into the talks. The president has said the U.S. will suspend joint military exercises with South Korea as long as Kim continues to negotiate in good faith.
"I think we've done something very historic already," Trump said.
But, he added, "to me, the success is when it gets done.'
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