Donald Trump downplays abuses by Kim Jong Un's regime

US President Donald Trump (left) and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un at the Capella Singapore hotel on Sentosa island in Singapore, on June 12, 2018. PHOTO: REUTERS

WASHINGTON (AFP) - US President Donald Trump downplayed abuses by Kim Jong Un's regime in an interview following his summit with the North Korean leader, saying that other countries had also done "bad things".

"A lot of other people (have) done some really bad things. I mean, I could go through a lot of nations where a lotta bad things were done," Trump said in an interview with Fox News on Wednesday night (June 13).

He praised Kim as "a very smart guy" and "a great negotiator", saying that "I think we understand each other".

According to Trump's own State Department, Kim's regime holds between 80,000 and 120,000 political prisoners in forced labor camps, facing torture and forced starvation.

As well as abuses at home, Kim is also suspected of ordering the assassination of his half-brother at a Malaysian airport last year.

Trump and Kim met in Singapore on Tuesday - an unprecedented encounter that saw the leader of the world's most powerful democracy shake hands with the third-generation scion of a dynastic dictatorship, standing as equals in front of their nations' flags.

Critics have charged the summit legitimised Kim and said the summit was more about headlines than substantive progress.

Trump also had kind words for Chinese President Xi Jinping in the interview, describing him as "an incredible guy" and noting that he is "essentially president for life. That's pretty good."

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