Donald Trump has claimed parents pleaded with him to bring back the remains of their sons who died in the Korean War 65 years ago.
“The soldiers that died in Korea, their remains are going to be coming back home,” he told Fox News aboard Air Force One.
“And we have thousands of people that have asked for that, thousands and thousands of people. So many people asked when I was on the campaign, I’d say ‘Wait a minute, I don’t have any relationship…’, but they said, ‘When you can President, we’d love our son to be brought back home’. You know the remains.
“And I asked [Mr Kim], we had pretty much finished, and I said, ‘Will you do me a favour? The remains of these great fallen heroes, can we do something?’ He agreed to it immediately. It was pretty great.”
The comments shocked viewers, who pointed out any parents still alive to make the request of Mr Trump during the 2016 presidential campaign would have been at least in their late 90s, and more likely well over a hundred. The Korean War armistice was signed in 1953.
“My father was a Korean War veteran who would be 90 today,” Maureen McFadden, a TV reporter, wrote on Twitter. “His parents were long gone during the election, as was he.”
Angus Johnston, a US historian, said: “An 18-year-old parent of an 18-year-old soldier killed on the last day of the Korean War would have been 99 years old in 2016. Trump says ‘so many’ of them reached out to him personally during the campaign.”
It was not the only controversial claim made by Mr Trump in the interview with Fox News anchor Bret Baier. He hailed Chinese premier Xi Jinping an “incredible guy”, adding it was “pretty good” he was “essentially president for life”.
He praised Mr Kim as a “tough guy” and a leader with rare ability in response to a questions about the dictator killing North Korean citizens.
The 72-year-old also said he wanted Russia back in the G7 so he could dine with Vladimir Putin and ask him if “you could get out of Syria”.
“I could ask him to do things that are good for the world,” he added.
On Tuesday, Mr Trump hailed his historic meeting with Mr Kim in Singapore a success, despite scepticism from experts.
The president said he would stop “expensive, provocative” war games with the South, in return for a North Korean commitment to “work toward complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula” – a phrase observers argue is open to different interpretations.
The US “committed to provide security guarantees” to North Korea, according to an agreement signed by both leaders in Singapore following decades of hostilities between the two nations.
Mr Trump said he expected the denuclearisation process to start “very, very quickly”. US secretary of state Mike Pompeo and North Korean officials will hold follow-up negotiations “at the earliest possible date”, the joint statement said.
However, the document did not give a definition of denuclearisation or details of how it would be achieved
Join our new commenting forum
Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies