U.S. President Donald Trump points to a questioner while taking questions during a news conference following Tuesday's midterm congressional elections at the White House in Washington, U.S., November 7, 2018.
(photo credit: KEVIN LAMARQUE/REUTERS)
WASHINGTON, Feb 15 - U.S. President Donald Trump made the case on Friday that he deserves to be awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for his work on North Korea and Syria, but complained he probably would never get the honor.
Trump, a Republican, capped off a rambling Rose Garden news conference with a well-oiled gripe that former Democratic President Barack Obama, a nemesis, won the Nobel Prize in 2009, just months into his first term in office.
"They gave it to Obama. He didn't even know what he got it for. He was there for about 15 seconds and he got the Nobel Prize. He said, 'Oh, what did I get it for?'" Trump grumbled.
"With me, I probably will never get it."
Trump claimed he saved 3 million people living in Syria's rebel-held Idlib region from being killed after he warned Russia, Iran and the Syrian government against a planned offensive.
"Nobody talks about that," he complained.
Attacks on the Idlib region have continued, though Trump said the strikes are done "surgically."
He said Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe had given him "the most beautiful copy" of a five-page letter in which Abe nominated him for the Nobel Peace Prize for opening talks and easing tensions with North Korea.
"You know why? Because he had rocket ships and he had missiles flying over Japan," Trump said. "Now, all of a sudden, they feel good. They feel safe. I did that," Trump said, adding that the Obama administration "couldn't have done it."
The White House declined further comment on Trump's claim that Abe had nominated him, and a spokesman for the Japanese embassy said he had no information about such a letter.
"Many other people feel that way, too. I'll probably never get it. But that's OK," Trump said.
Last April, South Korean President Moon Jae-in said Trump deserved the Nobel for his efforts to negotiate an end to North Korea's nuclear weapons program.
Trump will meet North Korean leader Kim Jong Un in Hanoi on Feb. 27-28 for a second summit on the nuclear issue. Trump says their first meeting in Singapore last June was a triumph but critics said it delivered no progress on denuclearization.
Trump praised himself on Friday for establishing a good relationship with Kim. "I like him a lot and he likes me a lot."
And he fondly recalled his original hardline approach to the reclusive leader, regaling reporters with some of his favorite bellicose lines.
"It was a very tough dialog at the beginning: 'Fire and fury.' 'Total annihilation.' 'My button is bigger than yours,' and 'My button works.' Remember that? You don't remember that. And people said, 'Trump is crazy.'"
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