Russian President Vladimir Putin added an unforgettable phrase to the annals of U.S.-Russian relations on Tuesday when he was asked if he was disappointed in President Trump.
Dismissing the question from a reporter as naive, he said: "He is not my bride, and I am not his bride or groom."
Like Trump, Putin is known for using plain-spoken, and sometimes startling, language. But the marital image was certainly one of the stranger comments to emerge in the wake of one of the tensest diplomatic standoffs between Moscow and Washington since the Cold War.
President Trump spoke Monday with South Korean President Moon Jae-in and sought to ratchet up pressure on North Korea following its test of what it claimed was a hydrogen bomb over the weekend, the White House said.
Trump also raised North Korea’s sixth and most powerful nuclear test in a Labor Day call with German Chancellor Angela Merkel.
He spoke Sunday with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.
As a candidate, Donald Trump boasted of his lack of government experience and argued his business background qualified him to handle a president’s most august responsibility — handling the nuclear arsenal.
On Sunday, hours after North Korea claimed it had tested its first hydrogen bomb, far more powerful than its previous nuclear tests, Defense Secretary James N. Mattis emerged from a meeting that Trump had just held with his top national security advisors, and raised the specter of nuclear war.
Standing in the White House driveway with Gen. Joseph F. Dunford, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Mattis warned Pyongyang that aggression against the United States or its allies would trigger a unified world response and what he termed the “total annihilation of a country, namely North Korea.”
Before he left office in January, President Obama offered his successor accolades and advice in a private letter that underscored some of his concerns as he passed the baton.
In the letter, published Sunday by CNN, Obama praised President Trump, saying: "Congratulations on a remarkable run. Millions have placed their hopes in you, and all of us, regardless of party, should hope for expanded prosperity and security during your tenure."
Obama went on to urge Trump to "build more ladders of success for every child and family," to "sustain the international order" and to protect "democratic institutions and traditions."
Defense Secretary James Mattis warned Pyongyang against aggression against the United States or its allies, saying it would trigger a unified world response and what he termed the “total annihilation of a country, namely North Korea.”
Speaking outside the White House after President Trump met with his top national security advisors, Mattis asserted that the U.S. has “many” military options, and that the president had been briefed on them.
He addressed North Korean leader Kim Jong Un in tart terms a day after Kim's government conducted what it claimed was its first hydrogen bomb test, a nuclear device far more destructive than those used against Japan at the end of World War II.
U.S. and international intelligence analysts will pore over all aspects of North Korea's Sunday weapons test, including sampling air for radioactive particles and studying seismic shock waves, to determine if it actually detonated a hydrogen bomb.
The analysis, which is likely to take weeks, seeks to confirm the size of the detonation, the weapon design and the radioactive fuel used.
Discovering the size of the weapon takes on increased importance since North Korea successfully test launched two intercontinental ballistic missiles — weapons in theory capable of striking the U.S. mainland, including California — in July.
In Iran, there were mixed reactions Sunday to North Korea’s claim that it had successfully carried out its sixth and most powerful nuclear test.
The Islamic Republic two years ago agreed to put its nuclear program on hold in exchange for relief from international sanctions that had crippled its economy.
The 2015 nuclear agreement was one of the Obama administration’s key foreign policy achievements, but President Trump has threatened to withdraw from the deal, which could trigger additional U.S. sanctions against Iran. Senior members of his administration have argued that Iran must allow international nuclear inspectors into its military sites, but Iran has refused.
As President Trump looks toward a month already filled with must-do items, crises of both domestic and international import collided on him Sunday.
The president last week declared Sunday to be a day of prayer for the victims of Hurricane Harvey, which cut a swath of destruction across southeastern Texas and western Louisiana.
Trump has repeatedly bragged about declaring the day of prayer, and he and his wife Melania underscored its importance by attending St. John's Church, across Lafayette Park from the White House. The Trumps attended a prayer service at the Episcopal church before his inauguration.
The escalating North Korea tensions come as Trump is weighing pulling out from a free-trade pact with South Korea. The White House said Saturday that “discussions are ongoing” about the trade agreement.
One of Trump’s key campaign issues was to scrap or re-negotiate what he considers “bad deals” on trade, but critics including Arizona Sen. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.) say withdrawing from the trade agreement with South Korea would be a bad move at this juncture because it would create the impression of a wedge between the U.S. and its Asian allies.