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US President Donald Trump says he “would be honored” to meet North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, despite escalating tensions between Washington and Pyongyang.

“If it would be appropriate for me to meet with him I would absolutely. I would be honored to do it,” Trump said in an interview with Bloomberg on Monday. “If it’s under the, again, under the right circumstances. But I would do that.”

A day earlier, Trump praised the North Korean leader as “a pretty smart cookie,” saying he was not to be underestimated.

“’I can tell you this, and a lot of people don’t like when I say it, but he was a young man of 26 or 27 when he took over from his father, when his father died. He’s dealing with obviously very tough people, in particular the generals and others,” Trump told NBC News on Sunday.

“And at a very young age, he was able to assume power,’ Trump continued. ‘A lot of people, I’m sure, tried to take that power away, whether it was his uncle or anybody else. And he was able to do it. So obviously, he’s a pretty smart cookie,” he added.

Tensions with North Korea have soared in recent weeks. The Trump administration has repeatedly warned “all options are on the table” regarding North Korea.

It has repeatedly threatened Kim with a military response to new tests of missiles and nuclear warheads, and sent warships and a nuclear submarine to Korean waters.

Trump even ordered two major attacks in Syria and Afghanistan last month, both of them viewed as stern warnings to the North.

North Korea, in response, has increased its missile tests and even hinted at a new nuclear test in the coming weeks. It has also warned the US and its regional allies like South Korea and Japan of a strong military response in case of any invasion.

“Most political people would never say that,” Trump told Bloomberg of his openness to meeting Kim. “But I’m telling you under the right circumstances I would meet with him. We have breaking news.”

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