<img height="1" width="1" style="display:none" src="http://b.scorecardresearch.com/p?c1=2&amp;c2=15743189&amp;cv=2.0&amp;cj=1&amp;&amp;c5=&amp;c15=">

Trump on Xi: 'He likes me a lot,' cooled 'horrific conflict' with North Korea

President Donald Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping pause for photographs at Mar-a-Lago in Palm Beach, Fla. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon, File)

President Trump has a new BFF in China President Xi Jinping, crediting him with cooling a developing disaster in North Korea.

"I like him and I believe he likes me a lot," Trump told journalists at a White House reception on Monday afternoon.

The president has come under fire in some corners for curbing his tough campaign attacks on Chinese currency manipulation as a result of the budding friendship.

But he said that ignores two changes in their U.S.-China relationship.

First, he said, that since becoming president, China has not manipulated their currency. "There has been no currency manipulation. Actually, their values have gone up, as opposed to down. We're only concerned with the down," said the president and former international real estate magnate.

What's more, he said that Xi has "real power" in North Korea and that he should be rewarded for helping lower escalating tensions with the U.S.

"It's really tough. I spoke to him last night for an hour, it's really tough to be saying, 'Thanks, but, by the way you're a currency manipulator,'" said Trump, adding, "It's supposed to be the art of the deal, that's not the art of the deal."

He added that it would be unreasonable to beat China up at this time. "How can I do it when they are helping us with a potentially horrific conflict?"

Paul Bedard, the Washington Examiner's "Washington Secrets" columnist, can be contacted at pbedard@washingtonexaminer.com