See More on Facebook

Diplomacy

Trump’s take on NK hints at gaps with aides, Japan

Trump’s recent comments on Kim Jong-un suggest a difference between the president and his aides.


Written by

Updated: May 29, 2019

US President Donald Trump appears to be taking a different tack on North Korea from his advisers and also from Japan, sending mixed signals about US-North Korea relations and dialogue prospects.

Speaking before and after his summit with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe in Tokyo on Monday, Trump reiterated his views on North Korea’s recent provocations and on its leader, Kim Jong-un.

“I think he’s very much — I talk to him a lot about it, and he’s very much into the fact that — he believes, like I do, that North Korea has tremendous economic potential like perhaps few other developing nations anywhere in the world,” Trump said.

“He knows that, with nuclear, that’s never going to happen. Only bad can happen. He understands that. He is a very smart man. He gets it well.”

Trump was responding to a reporter’s question: what he would consider a breach of trust by Kim. The question was raised after Trump downplayed North Korea’s missile launch, saying it involved only “small weapons.”

The US president also stressed that North Korea had not conducted missile or nuclear weapons tests in the past two years, adding that he was happy with the development and that “intelligent people agree with me.”

Ahead of the summit, Trump also said there was “great respect” between Washington and Pyongyang and that he felt “lots of good things will come with North Korea.”

Such confidence does not appear to be shared by Japan, a key US ally in the region, however.

While Abe said he and Trump had dedicated “a good amount of time in better aligning our policies” on North Korea and that the two countries were “completely on the same page,” differences were apparent in their approaches to the North Korean projectiles.

“Now, the launching of the missiles this time: On the 9th of May, North Korea launched a short-range ballistic missile. This is violating the Security Council resolution,” Abe was quoted as saying in a White House transcript of the event.

At the press conference, Trump again downplayed the significance of the North Korean projectiles and implied that he did not view them as a violation of the UN Security Council resolutions, saying he and his aides held differing views on the matter.

Seoul, meanwhile, maintains that the identity of the projectiles fired May 9 remains to be clarified.

A high-level Cheong Wa Dae official on Monday told reporters that it is unclear why US national security adviser John Bolton referred to the projectiles as ballistic missiles, adding that analysis was still underway.

With UN Security Council resolutions banning North Korea from launching any ballistic missiles regardless of range, Seoul has been careful not to use the term ballistic missiles in referring to the recently launched weapons.

President Moon Jae-in referred to the projectiles using a Korean word that sounds similar to “ballistic missiles” at a meeting with South Korean and US military commanders, only to have Cheong Wa Dae downplay the slip by saying he had misspoken.

While Trump continues to defend his assessment of North Korea, a local daily said the US had raised the issue of tritium facilities during the Trump-Kim summit in February.

Citing unnamed sources, local daily JoongAng Ilbo claimed Stephen Biegun, the US special representative for North Korea, had raised the issue with North Korean Vice Foreign Minister Choe Son-hui.

According to the daily, Biegun asked Choe if tritium facilities would be included among those to be shut down, as Trump was leaving the summit venue. Choe was unable to answer the question, according to the daily.

In an earlier interview with Fox News, Trump revealed that had Kim offered to shut down one or two of North Korea’s nuclear facilities at the Hanoi summit. Pyongyang operates five facilities.

North Korea, meanwhile, is taking an increasingly vehement tone against US officials, including Bolton, while refraining from criticizing Trump.

On Monday, North Korea’s Foreign Ministry spokesperson criticized Bolton over his comment that North Korea had fired short-range ballistic missiles in clear violation of UN resolutions.

Speaking on North Korean state-run television, the spokesperson called Bolton “ignorant” and accused him of being a “fanatic of war.”

“(Bolton) is not a security adviser but a security-destroying adviseor who destroys peace and safety,” the North Korean official said, accusing Bolton of devising policies favoring regime change and pre-emptive strikes against the North.

“It is not strange that twisted words are uttered from the mouth of a man who is structurally defective. Such human defect should (make him) scarce as soon as possible.”

North Korea has also attacked former US Vice President Joe Biden, referring to him as a “low IQ” individual, much to Trump’s delight.

In a Twitter message posted after North Korea’s attack on Biden, Trump wrote that he “also smiled when he called Swampman Joe Biden a low IQ individual, & worse. Perhaps that’s sending me a signal?”

Trump defended his comment when asked if it gave him pause to appear to side with Kim, saying he agreed with the assessment that Biden was a “low-IQ individual.”



Enjoyed this story? Share it.


Cod Satrusayang
About the Author: Cod Satrusayang is the Managing Editor at Asia News Network.

Eastern Briefings

All you need to know about Asia


Our Eastern Briefings Newsletter presents curated stories from 22 Asian newspapers from South, Southeast and Northeast Asia.

Sign up and stay updated with the latest news.



By providing us with your email address, you agree to our Privacy Policy and Terms of Service.

View Today's Newsletter Here

Diplomacy

G20 draft calls for digital economy rules within the year

Digital laws have been proposed before in the past but is gaining traction ahead of the G20s. The leaders’ declaration for this week’s Group of 20 summit will call for creating a framework for drawing up international rules on the digital economy to be called the “Osaka track,” according to a draft obtained by The Yomiuri Shimbun. It will also call for achieving results within the year. The G20 leaders are scheduled to gather in Osaka on Friday and Saturday. In the draft, the section on the digital economy is part of a separate “Osaka statement.” The Osaka statement draft welcomes progress in discussions among about 80 interested World Trade Organization member states on an e-commerce accord. The draft expresses the G20’s support for rule creation and other developments in this area through the Osaka track. It states that the leaders vow to collaborate so people all over the world w


By The Japan News
June 27, 2019

Diplomacy

Korea, Saudi seek closer cooperation

The two sign MOUs, deals worth over $8 billion. President Moon Jae-in and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman of Saudi Arabia met in Seoul on Wednesday to discuss ways to strengthen cooperation in a wide range of areas. The crown prince arrived in Seoul earlier in the day and was met by Prime Minister Lee Nak-yon before moving on to Cheong Wa Dae for a welcoming ceremony followed by a meeting with Moon and his top aides. At the meeting, Moon stressed the importance of Korea-Saudi relations, highlighting economic projects between the two countries and Seoul’s involvement in Saudi’s Vision 2030 program. The Vision 2030 program is aimed at reducing the country’s economic dependence on oil and developing its public service sectors. “Korea is a strategic partner in Vision 2030, and the two countries are expanding the horizon of cooperation beyond construction and energy to ICT, smart infr


By The Korea Herald
June 27, 2019

Diplomacy

Iran says US ‘lying’ on talks

Tehran vows to reduce commitments to 2015 nuclear deal with world powers. The United States enacted a new round of sanctions on Monday, targeting Iran’s supreme leader and some senior officials, further escalating tensions between the two sides. US President Donald Trump signed an executive order on Monday, saying he is “imposing hard-hitting sanctions on the supreme leader of Iran and the office of the supreme leader of Iran and many others”. Trump accused Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei of being ultimately “responsible for the hostile conduct” of the country. In response, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said on Tuesday that the fresh sanctions prove that Washington is lying about seeking to hold talks with Teheran. “At the same time as you call for negotiations you seek to sanction the foreign minister? It’s o


By China Daily
June 27, 2019

Diplomacy

Chinese aircraft carrier passes through Taiwan Strait

Taiwan says it closely monitored the situation. Taiwan’s military said June 25 it closely monitored the Chinese aircraft carrier Liaoning, as it passed through the Taiwan Strait earlier in the day. Having completed its mission in the South China Sea, the aircraft carrier, accompanied by a number of other combat ships, sailed north through the Taiwan Strait before returning to its home port of Qingdao in Shandong province, according to the defense ministry. The Liaoning is China’s first aircraft carrier and is named after one of its northeastern provinces. The 300-meter-long vessel was refurbished and upgraded from an unfinished Soviet carrier and commissioned in 2012. The Liaoning was observed passing through the Miyako Strait in the East China Sea earlier this month on its way to the Pacific Ocean, where the People’s Liberation Army Navy conducted training operations, according to Japan


By Cod Satrusayang
June 27, 2019

Diplomacy

Japan, Russia to not discuss sensitive territorial issue at G20

Japan, Russia likely to skip agreement on travel to northern territories at G20. Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and Russian President Vladimir Putin are unlikely to agree on a framework to facilitate travel to the northern territories at their bilateral meeting to be held as early as Saturday on the sidelines of the Group of 20 summit, according to Japanese government sources. Since April, the two governments have been studying a system to grant people traveling between the two countries and the northern territories special passport and visa treatment. The system would enable joint economic activities without harming the legal positions of Japan and Russia, which both claim sovereignty over the four islands. Japan had been considering a Russian proposal to allow short-term visa exemptions for travel between Hokkaido and Sakhalin in the Russian Far East, with the aim of reaching an


By The Japan News
June 26, 2019

Diplomacy

Vietnam, EU to sign free trade agreement

The agreement will be signed in Hanoi on June 30. The European Council announced on Tuesday that it has approved the European Union – Vietnam Free Trade Agreement (EVFTA) and the EU – Vietnam Investment Protection Agreement (EVIPA), and assigned the EU to sign the deals with Vietnam on June 30 in Hanoi The EVFTA and EVIPA are the most ambitious agreements concluded between the EU and a developing country. Once the EVFTA takes effect, over 99 per cent of tariff on goods from both sides will be lifted. Vietnam will remove 65 per cent of import tariff on goods from the EU. Remaining tariffs will be removed in the next decade. Besides offering significant economic opportunities, the trade agreement ensures that trade, investment and sustainable development go hand in hand, by setting the highest standards of labour, safety, environmental and consumer protection. Meanwhile, the EVITA will h


By Viet Nam News
June 26, 2019