"I probably have a very good relationship with Kim Jong-un", Trump told The Wall Street Journal in an interview.
On Thursday, President Donald Trump speculated he and Kim Jong Un - the North Korean leader whose regime called Trump a "mentally deranged US dotard" and whose nation the U.S.is attempting to strangle economically - had a "very good relationship". "I'm not saying I have or I haven't".
"Trump is convinced the only thing Kim understands and respects is a punch in the face, which he thinks no previous administration has had the guts to do", one USA official said.
Analysts see North Korea's need for Chinese oil as the most powerful economic leverage against Pyongyang. "I have relationships with people, I think you people are surprised", Trump said.
Trump has called on China to do more to resolve the North Korean nuclear issue. "I just don't want to comment", he replied, when asked by WSJ if he had contacts with the North Korean leader. "I just don't want to comment".
North Korea past year increased the pace of its missile programme. He said the USA was open to talks with North Korea under the right circumstances. The talks took place against a backdrop of increasingly strict USA -led sanctions and bellicose rhetoric directed against the North, framed by the December 22 UN Security Council sanctions and a barrage of aggressive tweets from President Trump.
The pope addressed diplomats a day before North Korea and South Korea are due to hold talks expected to address North Korea's participation in the Pyeongchang Winter Olympics.
When Asked if Kim meant to "drive a wedge" between Seoul and Washington by opening the talks with South Korea, the US President did not rule it out.
However, Zhao Tong, a North Korea expert at the Carnegie-Tsinghua Center in Beijing, said China's attitude might change if North Korea launched a nuclear-tipped ICBM into the Pacific Ocean or fired missiles toward Guam.
The consensus among US intelligence agencies is Kim is convinced Washington seeks to overthrow him and only a nuclear arsenal can deter that.
Trump discussed North Korea in a call Thursday with French President Emmanuel Macron of France.