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

Trump invites Asean leaders, including Duterte, to summit in US

Donald Trump, the US President has invited Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte and 11 other leaders of the Asean to a summit to be held in Las Vegas in March. US President Donald Trump has invited Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte and 11 other leaders of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) to a summit to be held in Las Vegas in March. “The invitation was first conveyed during the Asean-US meeting at the Asean Summit and related summits in Bangkok last November. The United States then reiterated its invitation through a letter dated Jan. 9, 2020,”the Palace said. The Palace also released a copy of Trump’s letter to the Asean leaders dated Nov. 1, given during last year’s Asean summit in Bangkok. “I would also like


By Philippine Daily Inquirer
January 20, 2020

Diplomacy

North Korea beefs up self-defense capabilities in military reorganization

The North have been making many changes ahead of talks. North Korean leader Kim Jong-un presided over a meeting of the top military decision-making body to accelerate the development of self-defense capabilities ahead of key events that will decide its national strategy, its state media reported Sunday. Discussions on ways to bolster its military capabilities through organizational restructuring and personnel reshuffle were highlighted during the third expanded meeting of the seventh central military commission of the ruling Workers’ Party. Details on what measures were discussed were not disclosed. “At the meeting, Supreme Leader Kim Jong-un


By The Korea Herald
December 23, 2019

Diplomacy

Modi defends citizenship decision

PM Modi says it has nothing to do with Indian Muslims. Prime Minister Narendra Modi said, that unity in diversity is integral to India while addressing ‘Aabhar Rally’ at Delhi’s Ramlila Maidan today to kick start Bharatiya Janata Party’s Delhi Assembly Elections campaign slated for early next year, amid protests in Delhi and all over the country against the contentious Citizenship Act and the National Register of Citizenship(NRC). Modi raised slogan of ‘vividhta me ekta, Bharat ki visheshta’ (Unity in diversity is India’s speciality). PM Modi while giving his party and government’s view on CAA and NRC said, “Muslims being misled, I have always ensured that documents will never come in way of development schemes and their beneficiaries.” Citizenship law and NRC have nothing to do with Indian Muslims or with Indian citizens, he clarified. “We have never asked


By The Statesman
December 23, 2019

Diplomacy

Rallies rage on in India over citizenship law

Thousands of students flood streets of Delhi; Assam state sees five protesters shot dead. Thousands of university students flooded the streets of India’s capital yesterday, while a southern state government led a march and demonstrators held a silent protest in the north-east, to protest against a new law giving citizenship to non-Muslims who entered India illegally to flee religious persecution in several neighbouring countries. The protests in New Delhi followed a night of violent clashes between the police and demonstrators at Jamia Millia Islamia University. People who student organisers said were not students set three buses on fire and the police stormed the university library, firing tear gas at students crouched under desks. Members of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s ruling Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party said opposition parties were using th


By The Straits Times
December 17, 2019

Diplomacy

China-US trade deal bullish news for both countries, rest of world

From Chinese state media. State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi said Saturday that the China-US deal on the text of a phase-one economic and trade agreement serves as bullish news for both countries and the rest of the world. Speaking at a joint press conference with Slovenian Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Miro Cerar, Wang said China has, as always, been opposed to settling economic and trade disputes by imposing tariffs as there is no winner in a trade war. China has also rejected the use of unilateral pressure as it violates the rules of the World Trade Organization (WTO), said Wang. He pointed out that following rounds of back-and-forth negotiations, China and the United States have agreed on the wording of a phase-one economic and trade agreement, and the US side has promised to phase out additional tariffs on Chinese products. The agreement demonstrates the spirit


By China Daily
December 16, 2019

Diplomacy

Biegun arrives in Seoul amid deadlock in NK-US nuclear talks

Pyongyang says it conducted “another crucial test” at Sohae site. US Special Representative for North Korea Stephen Biegun arrived in Seoul on Sunday for a “close coordination” with allies amid the deadlock in the denuclearization talks with Pyongyang just weeks before the communist regime’s year-end deadline. A day before, North Korea issued statements to announce that it had carried out “another crucial test” at a satellite launching site, warning the United States to “hold off” any action to “rattle” the regime. During his three-day trip here, the US special envoy is expected to meet with officials here to discuss on the


By The Korea Herald
December 16, 2019