WASHINGTON • US President Donald Trump said yesterday that he would be ready to meet North Korean leader Kim Jong Un if it was "appropriate" to do so and "under the right circumstances".
Mr Trump's remarks came amid heightened tensions over North Korea's nuclear weapons programme.
"If it would be appropriate for me to meet with him, I would absolutely, I would be honoured to do it," Mr Trump said in an interview with Bloomberg News. "If it's under the, again, under the right circumstances. But I would do that."
"Most political people would never say that," Mr Trump said of his willingness to meet the reclusive Mr Kim. "But I'm telling you, under the right circumstances, I would meet with him. We have breaking news."
Mr Trump's remarks yesterday were in contrast to what he said in an interview with CBS aired on Sunday, in which he said that if North Korea carries out another nuclear test, "I would not be happy".
Asked if "not happy" signified "military action", he answered: "I don't know. I mean, we'll see."
Earlier yesterday, North Korea warned it would carry out a nuclear test "at any time and at any location", in the latest threat to fuel jitters in the region.
Tensions on the Korean peninsula have been running high for weeks, with signs that Pyongyang might be preparing a long-range missile launch or a sixth nuclear test - and with Washington refusing to rule out a military strike in response.
A spokesman for the North's Foreign Ministry said the country was "fully ready to respond to any option taken by the US". The regime will continue bolstering its "pre-emptive nuclear attack" capabilities unless Washington scrapped its hostile policies, state-run KCNA news agency reported yesterday.
"The measures for bolstering the nuclear force to the maximum will be taken in a consecutive and successive way at any moment and any place decided by its supreme leadership," the spokes- man added.
The North Korean Foreign Ministry spokesman said if Pyongyang was not armed with "the powerful nuclear force", Washington would have "committed without hesitation the same brigandish aggression act in Korea as what it committed against other countries".
Pyongyang's latest attempted show of force was a failed missile test on Saturday that came just hours after US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson pressed the United Nations Security Council to do more to push the North into abandoning its nuclear and missile programmes.
CIA director Mike Pompeo, who was in Seoul, reportedly briefed South Korea's spy agency and senior officials on Washington's policy regarding Pyongyang.
BLOOMBERG, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, REUTERS