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Donald Trump said his wife Melania has 'gotten to know' Kim Jong Un. Shortly after, the White House said they've never actually met.

John Haltiwanger , Business Insider US
 Aug 27, 2019, 11:30 AM
Donald Trump
US President Donald Trump and North Korea's leader Kim Jong-un talk before a meeting in the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) on June 30, 2019, in Panmunjom, Korea.
  • The White House on Monday clarified that Melania Trump has never met North Korean leader Kim Jong Un after US President Donald Trump said the first lady has "gotten to know" Kim.
  • White House press secretary Stephanie Grisham said, "President Trump confides in his wife on many issues including the detailed elements of his strong relationship with Chairman Kim - and while the First Lady hasn't met him, the President feels like she's gotten to know him too."
  • Trump has met with Kim three times, developing a controversial relationship with a leader decried across the world for human rights abuses. Melania was never present for any of Trump's meetings with Kim.
  • At the G7 summit, Trump said he's "not happy" with recent missile tests from North Korea but said Kim is "not in violation of any agreement."
  • For more stories go to the Business Insider South Africa homepage.

American President Donald Trump on Monday said Melania Trump has "gotten to know" Kim Jong Un, prompting the White House to issue a statement clarifying that the US First Lady has never met the North Korean leader.

While answering questions on Iran during a news conference at the Group of 7 summit in Biarritz, France, the president changed the subject to North Korea, stating, "I also say that, by the way, with respect to North Korea, Kim Jong Un - who I've gotten to know extremely well; the first lady had gotten to know Kim Jong Un, and I think she'd agree with me - he is a man with a country that has tremendous potential."

But the US first lady was not present for any of Trump's meetings with Kim, and White House press secretary Stephanie Grisham in a statement shortly thereafter said Melania "hasn't met" the leader of the rogue state.

Grisham said, "President Trump confides in his wife on many issues including the detailed elements of his strong relationship with Chairman Kim - and while the First Lady hasn't met him, the President feels like she's gotten to know him too."

Trump has met with Kim three times. Melania never joined.

Early on in his presidency, Trump had an extremely contentious relationship with Kim and the two leaders frequently traded insults from across the globe - sparking fears of a potentially devastating military conflict between the US and North Korea.

But Trump softened his tone toward the North Korean leader moving into 2018, which paved the way for the two to meet in Singapore in June last year. Trump and Kim expressed a desire to turn the page in the historically antagonistic relationship between US and North Korea. The leaders signed joint statement pledging to move toward an enduring peace and the complete denuclearisation of the Korean Peninsula.

Trump earlier this year met with Kim a second time in Hanoi, Vietnam, to continue talks on denuclearisation. The summit ended abruptly and without a clear or firm deal in place.

The president in June met with Kim a third time at the demilitarised zone between North and South Korea. The meeting, which Kim said came as a surprise, was last-minute and orchestrated via a tweet from Trump.

Trump's daughter and son-in-law, White House advisers Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner, were present for the meeting in June.

But the first lady was not present for either of the two summits or the fairly impromptu meeting that occurred in June.

Since transitioning from insulting him with tweets to meeting with the North Korean leader on the global stage, Trump has routinely boasted about his close relationship with Kim.

The president's ongoing praise for Kim, one of the world's most repressive leaders, has been highly controversial and sparked criticism from politicians on both sides of the aisle.

'We are in the world of missiles folks, whether you like it or not'

North Korea has still not denuclearised and in recent weeks has conducted missile tests - including over the weekend.

At the G7 on Sunday, Trump told reporters he was "not happy" about North Korea's missile tests but said Kim was "not in violation of any agreement."

"I discussed long-range ballistic and that he cannot do and he hasn't been doing it and he hasn't been doing nuclear testing. He has done short-range, much more standard missiles, a lot of people are testing those missiles, not just him. We are in the world of missiles folks, whether you like it or not," Trump added during a bilateral meeting with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.

Abe disagreed with Trump's assessment. "Our position is very clear, the launch of the short-range ballistic missiles by North Korea clearly violates the relevant UN Security Council resolutions."

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