Jimmy Carter says that Trump 'reacted quite well' to North Korea invitation

Key Points
  • Former President Jimmy Carter said on "CBS Sunday Morning" that he believes President Donald Trump "reacted quite well" when North Korea invited him to talk earlier this month.
  • Carter also said that if help is needed, he'll be there.
  • The White House said Trump plans to meet with the North Korean leader by the end of May.
DPRK President Kim Il Sung sits alongside former U.S. President Jimmy Carter in June 1994, just weeks before Kim’s death.
Korean Central News Agency | AP

Former President Jimmy Carter said that he believes President Donald Trump "reacted quite well" to an invitation to talks with North Korea. Carter also said that if his help is needed, he'll be there.

Carter, 93, made those remarks in an interview with "CBS Sunday Morning" anchor Jane Pauley that will air on the morning news show Sunday. Carter added that he's had more than 20 hours of talks with top North Korean leaders throughout his career. "And I understand what they want and need," said Carter, a Democrat.

Trump's decision to quickly accept North Korean leader Kim Jong Un's offer shook his administration and the international community.

The White House said March 16 that Trump plans to meet with Kim by the end of May. The news broke after the release of a transcript of a phone call between Trump and South Korean President Moon Jae-in.

"The two leaders agreed that concrete actions, not words, will be the key to achieving permanent denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula," the White House said, "and President Trump reiterated his intention to meet with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un by the end of May."

Carter, who has been involved in international affairs since his term ended, said the Trump White House briefed him on the situation with North Korea. He said he would travel to the rogue nation for Trump if asked.

Carter was president from 1977 to 1981 and drew major criticism over the Iran hostage crisis, which began in 1979. Fifty-two American diplomats and civilians were held hostage at the U.S. embassy in Tehran, Iran, for 444 days. The hostages were eventually released to the United States, following failed diplomatic and military attempts to rescue them.

The potential meeting between Trump and Kim approaches as the State Department transitions to a new secretary. On March 15, Trump fired former Secretary of State Rex Tillerson in a tweet, picking CIA Director Mike Pompeo as his successor.

Before Trump's acceptance of Kim's invitation, he had openly mocked Tillerson for pushing for diplomacy with the North Koreans. Relations between Trump and Kim had not previously been so kind, with Kim referring to Trump as a "mentally deranged U.S. dotard" and Trump calling Kim "Little Rocket Man." Trump also made threats in response to the peninsula's repeated missile launches.

Trump tweet

Carter's interview with Pauley on "CBS Sunday Morning" will air on Sunday at 9 a.m. ET.