Trump sees progress with North Korea, welcomes Putin's support

U.S. President Donald Trump gives a thumbs up to his audience as he hosts Take Our Daughters and Sons to Work Day at the White House in Washington, U.S., April 25, 2019. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. President Donald Trump, who ended a summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un earlier this year without a nuclear deal, said on Friday a lot of progress was being made towards an agreement and welcomed support from Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Putin said after holding his first face-to-face talks with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un on Thursday that U.S. security guarantees would probably not be enough to persuade Pyongyang to shut its nuclear program.

Putin said he believed any U.S. guarantees might need to be supported by the other nations involved in previous six-way talks on the nuclear issue, which included Russia, China, Japan and South Korea as well as the United States and North Korea.

That format has been sidelined by unilateral U.S. efforts to broker a deal.

“I think we’re doing very well with North Korea. A lot of progress is being made,” Trump told reporters at the White House. “I appreciated President Putin’s statement yesterday. He wants to see it done also. I think there’s a lot of excitement for getting a deal done with North Korea.”

Trump said he appreciated Russian and Chinese support and said China may have been helping in part because of trade negotiations between Washington and Beijing.

“I have a great relationship with Kim Jung Un,” Trump said. “And China’s helping us, because I think they want to. They don’t need nuclear weapons right next to their country. But I also think they’re helping us because of the fact that we’re in a trade deal, which by the way is going very well.”

Putin described Kim as “quite open” and as “thoughtful” and “interesting.”

Reporting by Jeff Mason and Makini Brice