U.S. President Donald Trump told the Reuters news agency on Thursday that a major conflict with North Korea is possible in the standoff over its nuclear and missile programs, but stressed he would prefer a diplomatic outcome to the dispute.
"There is a chance that we could end up having a major, major conflict with North Korea. Absolutely," Trump told the news agency in an Oval Office interview ahead of his 100th day in office on Saturday.
He stressed, however, that he wanted to peacefully resolve the crisis.
"We'd love to solve things diplomatically but it's very difficult," Trump acknowledged, while lavishing praise on Chinese President Xi Jinping for Chinese assistance in trying to rein in North Korea. The two leaders met in Florida earlier this month, and officials said last week that Trump's strategy toward North Korea hinges on China.
"I believe he is trying very hard. He certainly doesn’t want to see turmoil and death. He doesn’t want to see it. He is a good man. He is a very good man and I got to know him very well,” he told Reuters.
"With that being said, he loves China and he loves the people of China. I know he would like to be able to do something, perhaps it's possible that he can’t," Trump said.
Trump's interview came just a day after he and his top national security advisers briefed U.S. lawmakers on the North Korean threat.
Following that briefing, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, Secretary of Defense James Mattis and Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats issued a statement in which they stressed that the U.S. seeks the peaceful denuclearization of North Korea, but is also prepared to defend itself and its allies. READ MORE