President Donald Trump raised the stakes on his engagement with North Korea as he concluded a trip to New York to attend the United Nations General Assembly.
Trump claimed at a news conference that if it weren’t for him millions of people would be dead, because the United States and North Korea would be in a bloody conflict.
‘They said, “Oh, Trump is saying these horrible things. He’s going to get us into a war. You were going to have a war – if I wasn’t elected, you’d be in a war,’ he asserted. ‘And President Obama essentially said the same thing. He was ready to go to war. You would have had a war and you would have lost millions, not thousands.’
A nuclear conflict would wipe out the nearby populous of Seoul, which is just across the border from North Korea, he said. ‘You would have lost millions of people. Seoul has 30 million people, 40 miles and 30 miles from this very dangerous border.
‘If I wasn’t elected, you would have had a war. President Obama thought you had to go to war,’ he said, digging in. ‘You know how close he was to pressing the trigger for war?’
Trump said he deserves more credit for suspending the North Korean nuclear threat than he typically gets. ‘Millions of people,’ he said, coming back to the hypothetical death toll. ‘With me, nobody is talking about that.’
Highlighting his overtures to Kim Jong-un, who he has become pen pals with since their Singapore summit, Trump said, ‘He likes me, I like him. We get along. He wrote me two of the most beautiful letters.’
The U.S. leader said that Japanese prime minister could attest to the ‘groundbreaking’ nature of their correspondence.
‘I showed one of the letters — just one — to Prime Minister Abe,’ he said.
Gushing about the latest letter, Trump said, ‘It’s a beautiful piece of art. And I think we’re going to make a deal.’
‘In the meantime, and I have said it — I don’t want to bore you. No rockets, no missiles, no nuclear tests. You know, for over a year.’
Trump has been boasting all week that thanks to him ‘missiles and rockets are no longer flying in every direction’ from North Korea and the remains of American soldiers have been returned.
‘We have engaged with North Korea to replace the specter of conflict with a bold and new push for peace,’ he told attendees of his United Nations address on Tuesday.
He said later, as he sat down with the newly-elected Colombia president that the good vibes with North Korea are ‘far greater than the media understands or knows’ because it’s all taking place through private communication.
‘Letters have been going back and forth, and conversations have been happening,’ he said.
Trump pointed out that ‘if you look at just last year, at this exact time, my words were slightly different having to do with the events taking place in North Korea’ in his remarks before the United Nations.
‘But there’s been a tremendous difference if you look at from one year to the next,’ he said.’A tremendous difference. And again, far greater than anybody really would understand, because we know what’s happening behind the scenes.’