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Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 13 November 2018

White House pushes back over Trump North Korea quote

Both The Wall Street Journal and the White House posted audio recordings of Mr Trump's remarks on Twitter

This photo taken on January 3, 2018 shows White House press secretary Sarah Sanders taking questions during the daily briefing at the White House in Washington, DC. Jim Watson / AFP
This photo taken on January 3, 2018 shows White House press secretary Sarah Sanders taking questions during the daily briefing at the White House in Washington, DC. Jim Watson / AFP

The White House on Saturday denied and corrected a quote attributed to president Donald Trump that suggested he had a good relationship with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un.

"I probably have a very good relationship with Kim Jong-un," Mr Trump was quoted as telling The Wall Street Journal in an interview on Thursday.

But press secretary Sarah Sanders insisted that Mr Trump said "I'd," not "I" as the newspaper reported.

Both The Wall Street Journal and the White House posted audio recordings of Mr Trump's remarks on Twitter. These, while not completely clear, appeared to support Ms Sanders' account.

Ms Sanders had earlier tweeted a written message disputing the newspaper's article.

"President Trump said, I'D probably have a very good relationship with Kim Jong Un of North Korea. I'D —I'D —I'D. NOT I!" the message read, with "I'D" in red ink, under a red banner reading "FAKE NEWS."

Mockingly mimicking the newspaper's front page, it then reads "THE WALL STREET JOURNAL -- FAKE NEWS IS AT IT AGAIN! -- FALSELY QUOTING PRESIDENT TRUMP."

Washington and Pyongyang are in a stand-off over North Korea's missile and nuclear programmes, which could be used to target the US and its allies.

Mr Trump has repeatedly insulted the North Korean leader, describing him as mad and a "rocket man".

Asked by The Wall Street Journal if he had spoken to Mr Kim, Mr Trump said: "I don't want to comment on it. I'm not saying I have or haven't. I just don't want to comment."

Mr Trump suggested his variable position on individuals was part of a broader strategy.

But it was not clear how his remarks fitted with his self-described policy of "maximum pressure" on Pyongyang.

In the coming week the US and Canada are to host a meeting in Vancouver on the nuclear stand-off with North Korea, bringing together friendly powers from around the world.