President Trump spoke candidly in a new interview Thursday about his relationship with Kim Jong Un, claiming his derogatory nicknames for the North Korean despot may be part of a broader strategy to pave the way for diplomatic talks with Pyongyang.
"I probably have a very good relationship with Kim Jong Un," the president told the Wall Street Journal, declining to comment on whether he and Kim have spoken in recent months.
"I'm not saying I have or haven't. I just don't want to comment," Trump said.
Trump has regularly mocked his North Korean counterpart, calling him "rocket man" and describing him as "short and fat." As recently as last week, the president boasted of having a larger "nuclear button" than Kim.
"It is a much bigger and more powerful one than his, and my button works!" Trump tweeted.
But the president brushed aside those comments on Thursday, likening his public humiliation of Kim to the way he has teased and berated other individuals with whom he later developed a positive rapport.
"You'll see that a lot with me," Trump said. "And then all of the sudden, somebody's my best friend."
"I could give you 20 examples. You could give me 30. I'm a very flexible person," he added.
Trump previously undercut Secretary of State Rex Tillerson's diplomatic overtures to North Korea, casting attempts to "negotiate with Little Rocket Man" as futile.
But on Thursday he appeared more open to pursuing a diplomatic approach with Kim's regime.
His recent decision to delay joint military exercises with South Korea until after the upcoming Winter Olympics was something that "sends a good message to North Korea," Trump said.