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

Seoul summons Japanese envoy over radioactive water disposal plan

Concerns over Fukushima discharge. South Korea’s Foreign Ministry on Monday sought a detailed explanation on Japan’s reported plan to release radioactive water from the 2011 Fukushima nuclear plant meltdown, while expressing safety concerns. Climate, Environment, Science and Foreign Affairs Director Kwon Se-jung summoned Tomofumi Nishinaga, economic counselor at the Japanese Embassy here, to convey the government’s concerns on the possible disposal of contaminated water. “Our government very gravely recognizes the impact that the discharge of contaminated water from the Fukushima plant may have on the health and safety of both countries’ citizens, and by extension on all countries along the ocean side,” the ministry said in a press release.


By The Korea Herald
August 20, 2019

Diplomacy

Holding Huawei hostage won’t pay off: China Daily editorial

Editor’s note: Washington has postponed its Huawei decision until after holidays. Early this week, Washington will review its decision on Huawei as scheduled. It put the company on its export-control list on May 15, delaying the restrictions for three months from May 21. Although it might be the US suppliers of Huawei that care more about the outcome than the Chinese telecommunications giant itself, the US should not try to hold Huawei hostage to try and force China into agreeing to an unfair trade deal. Huawei is confident that no power can hold back the pace with which the world will step over the threshold into the 5G era and equally sure of its leadership advantages in that technology, which come from its innovation and foresight. It spends about $20 billion a year on research and development, and it has reportedly already begun research on the next generation 6G telecommunications technology.


By China Daily
August 20, 2019

Diplomacy

The rise of the militant Islamic State affiliate in Afghanistan

Is ISIS on the comeback and rising in Afghanistan. A suicide bombing at a wedding party in Kabul claimed by a local affiliate of the militant Islamic State (IS) group has renewed fears about the growing threat posed by its thousands of fighters, as well as their ability to plot global attacks from a stronghold in the forbidding mountains of northeastern Afghanistan. The attack came as the Afghan Taliban appear to be nearing a deal with the United States to end nearly 18 years of fighting. Now Washington hopes the Afghan Taliban can help rein in IS fighters, even as some worry that Taliban fighters, disenchanted by a peace deal, could join IS. The US envoy in talks with the Afghan Taliban, Zalmay Khalilzad, says the peace process must be accelerated to put Afghanistan in a “much stronger position to defe


By Dawn
August 20, 2019

Diplomacy

Signs of global recession haunt S. Korean economy

Trade wars and economic disputes have harmed the economy. A shadow of global recession looms over key economies as major markets have been dealing with some of their worst days in recent weeks. This is sparking concerns that chances of recession may also be growing on home turf, in South Korea. Last week, the yields on US 10-year Treasurys fell below two-year yields for the first time since 2007 – a phenomenon known as an inverted yield curve. Investors and experts alike are regarding such trend with wariness — every recession in the last 60 years has been preceded by the yield curve inversions. “Every time the US 10-year Treasuries fell below two-year yields, an economic recession came within a time frame of 18 months, which is why we have to be concerned,” Kong Dong-rak, an analyst at Daishin Securities said. “Even if it does not result in a recession, it is definitely a strong si


By The Korea Herald
August 19, 2019

Diplomacy

Pakistan questions India’s nuclear arsenal

‘World must seriously consider safety, security of India’s nuclear arsenal in control of fascist Modi’. Prime Minister Imran Khan on Sunday expressed concern about the “safety and security of India’s nuclear arsenal” and urged the international community to take notice. In a series of tweets, the premier said that the fact that India’s nuclear weapons are in the control of “the fascist, racist Hindu supremacist Modi government […] impacts not just the region but the world”. The premier’s statement comes two days after Indian Defence Minister Rajnath Singh de


By Dawn
August 19, 2019

Diplomacy

China condemns US politicians’ Hong Kong statements

The statements were recorded in all the State-Run papers. Recent statements from US politicians violated the spirit of rule of law and interfered with China’s internal affairs, a spokesman with the country’s top legislature said on Saturday. You Wenze, spokesman of the Foreign Affairs Committee of the National People’s Congress, said some US politicians have glorified violent crimes in Hong Kong as protests for human rights and freedom, while smearing as violent suppression Hong Kong police efforts at law enforcement and maintaining social order. He said some politicians have threatened for US Congress to pass a so-called Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act, which “severely violated the spirit of rule of law, showed clear double standards and grossly interfered in China’s internal affairs”. You’s remarks came in response to several statements from US


By China Daily
August 19, 2019