In an interview marked by conciliatory remarks regarding Donald Trump and his administration, Jimmy Carter said he was willing to travel to North Korea in an attempt to soften tensions between Washington and Pyongyang.

Speaking to the New York Times mostly about foreign policy, the 93-year-old former president also said Trump was not solely to blame for damage to America’s world image.

“The media have been harder on Trump than any other president certainly that I’ve known about,” he said. “I think they feel free to claim that Trump is mentally deranged and everything else without hesitation.”

Trump has engaged in a war of words with the North Korean leader, Kim Jong-un, often via Twitter and with liberal use of a mocking nickname, “Little Rocket Man”. The president has also undercut efforts by his secretary of state to talk to Pyongyang, repeatedly suggesting that only military action will work, and used his maiden speech to the United Nations to threaten to “totally destroy” the country.

Carter, president between 1977 and 1981, spoke at his house in Plains, Georgia. On Saturday night he joined former presidents George HW Bush (1989-93), Bill Clinton (1993-2001), George W Bush (2001-2009) and Barack Obama (2009-2017) at a concert in College Station, Texas, to raise money for hurricane relief.

The Democrat has been active on the world stage since leaving the White House, via the Carter Center non-profit. In 1994 he went to Pyongyang and negotiated a short-lived deal to lessen tensions not resolved since the end of the Korean war in 1953. He also travelled to North Korea in 2010, to negotiate the release of an American held in the country, and again in 2011. Asked by the Times if he would go again, he said: “I would go, yes.”

He had spoken to the national security adviser, HR McMaster, he said, including at the funeral of…