TOKYO — In an apparent contradiction of his national security adviser, President Donald Trump on Sunday downplayed recent North Korean missile tests, tweeting from Tokyo that they’re not a concern for him — even though they are for Japan.
Trump also said North Korean leader Kim Jong Un’s attacks on one of his Democratic rivals, former Vice President Joe Biden, had made him smile.
The remarks were the latest example of Trump’s willingness to publicly undermine senior advisers, flout Democratic norms and side with totalitarian leaders, even on the world stage.
He did so this time during a four-day state visit to Japan where he’ll become the first leader to meet with the country’s new emperor.
“North Korea fired off some small weapons, which disturbed some of my people, and others, but not me,” Trump tweeted.
Earlier, security adviser John Bolton, told reporters that a series of short-range missile tests by North Korea earlier this month were a violation of UN Security Council resolutions.
“In terms of violating UN Security Council resolutions, there is no doubt about that,” said Bolton, responding to the 4 and 9 May tests that ended a pause in launches that began in late 2017.
Trump ignored a shouted question Sunday about whether he agreed with Bolton’s assessment.
Trump and other administration officials have sought to downplay the significance of the tests, insisting they do not violate an agreement Trump reached with Kim for a moratorium on launches.
“The moratorium was focused, very focused, on intercontinental missile systems, the ones that threaten the United States,” Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said in a recent television interview.
That raised alarm bells in Japan, where short-range missiles pose a serious threat because of the country’s proximity to North Korea.
Trump in his tweet said he had “confidence that Chairman Kim will keep his promise to me,” while at the same time embracing Kim’s recent attacks on Biden, whose name he misspelled.