Trump Would Be 'Honored' to Meet North Korean Leader. Or He Might 'Nuke' Him: "I Don't Know, I Mean, We'll See."
May 2, 2017
AntiWar.com & The New York Post & The Washington Post
Donald Trump said he would "be honored" to meet with North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un amid heightened tensions over the rogue regime's nuclear weapons program. At the same time, Trump did not appear to be ruling out military action against North Korea if the country pushes forward with its nuclear weapons program. Asked whether this meant he is considering a military attack on yet another foreign country, Trump explained his foreign policy position thusly: "I don't know. I mean, we'll see."
Trump: Would Be 'Honored'
To Meet North Korean Leader
Jason Ditz / AntiWar.com
(May 1, 2017) -- While President Trump is often criticized in the media for his excessive bellicosity on certain issues, he is never quite so roundly and universally condemned by mainstream outlets as when he's talking peace. That fact was underscored today, when he told Bloomberg News he would "be honored" to meet North Korea's Kim Jong-un.
Despite Trump offering several qualifiers about talks if "appropriate" and "under the right circumstances," which suggest it almost certainly will never happen at all, was loudly panned. Indeed, many outlets that offered at most tepid reporting of international concern Trump was about to attack North Korea were quick to lash out at the very idea of diplomacy.
That Trump seems to have at least backed away from his threats to attack a little bit is a relief to many, and the possibility of the US moving away from launching a major regional war and toward direct diplomacy should be a reason for applause, even if it is clearly very much a long shot.
President Obama certainly was never this heavily criticized for suggestions of diplomacy, during the 2008 campaign suggesting he was open to meeting with both the leaders of Iran and North Korea, saying refusing diplomacy on the idea it amounted to "punishing" the other nation was ridiculous.
Of course, President Obama never met with either, as diplomacy in conflict with the status quo became a lot less convenient in practice than it was in theory. Still, the idea that the US might negotiate with nations they aren't on the best of terms with appears to have become dramatically more controversial.
This was also underscored with President Trump's early talk of meeting with Russia and trying to negotiate a rapprochement. While President Obama was able to do a "Russian reset" with relative ease, even Trump's suggestion that having better US-Russia relations would be a good thing was a target of derision across the press and Congress, with many clearly deeply invested in continuing acrimony.
The anti-diplomacy bias that exists now has become almost preposterous, as even the likes of Dennis Rodman can't visit North Korea without it becoming a huge negative story. With President Trump is clearly never going to visit Pyongyang, at this point it seems like even suggesting he might conceivably be in the same room as Kim is a step too far for many.
Donald Trump Would Be
'Honored' to Meet Kim Jong Un
Mark Moore and Bob Fredericks / The New York Post
NEW YORK (May 1, 2017) -- President Trump said he would "be honored" to meet with North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un amid heightened tensions over the rogue regime's nuclear weapons program, a new report said Monday.
"If it would be appropriate for me to meet with him, I would absolutely, I would be honored to do it," Trump said in an interview with Bloomberg News. "If it's under the, again, under the right circumstances. But I would do that."
North Korea has become the most urgent national security threat and foreign policy issue facing Trump as his first 100 days in office passed. Kim's regime has continued development of its nuclear and intercontinental ballistic missile programs in defiance of international condemnation and sanctions.
The murderous nutjob -- who has had his own family members executed with flamethrowers and anti-aircraft weapons -- has never met with a foreign leader since taking charge after his father's death in 2011 and hasn't left his isolated country.
"Most political people would never say that," Trump said of his willingness to meet with the reclusive Kim, "but I'm telling you under the right circumstances, I would meet with him. We have breaking news."
Meanwhile, the US' top spy made a surprise trip to South Korea over the weekend -- just as North Korea defied the Trump administration by vowing to strengthen its nuclear weapons program "to the maximum."
The US Embassy in Seoul confirmed Monday that CIA chief Mike Pompeo and his wife were in the capital, as tensions between the US and Kim's regime continued to escalate.
South Korean media reports said the top spook arrived for meetings with the head of South Korea's National Intelligence Service and high-level officials in the presidential office.
The visit came after North Korea conducted another missile test Saturday, and as a spokesman for the North Korean government warned that more tests would be coming.
"Now that the US is kicking up the overall racket for sanctions and pressure against the DPRK, pursuant to its new DPRK policy called 'maximum pressure and engagement', the DPRK will speed up at the maximum pace the measure for bolstering its nuclear deterrence," a foreign ministry spokesman said Monday, using an acronym for the country's official name, the Democratic People's Republic of Korea.
Vowing not to relent on developing weapons programs, the rogue regime said the "measures for bolstering the nuclear force to the maximum will be taken in a consecutive and successive way at any moment and any place decided by its supreme leadership," the spokesman said.
In an interview Sunday, Trump said he would not be "happy" if North Korea continues testing nuclear devices and wouldn't rule out using military force if it conducts a sixth test.
"If he does a nuclear test, I will not be happy," Trump said on CBS' Face the Nation. Asked if that meant he would retaliate with a military strike, Trump said: "I don't know. I mean, we'll see."
Kim's regime has conducted five nuclear tests since October 2006 and has been test-firing rockets. Kim is trying to develop a ballistic missile capable of carrying a nuclear warhead that could strike the US.
The launch of a mid-range missile Saturday ended in failure as the rocket exploded in midair moments after takeoff.
Trump has enlisted Chinese President Xi Jinping to pressure North Korea to curtail its weapons and nuclear programs and has also dispatched an aircraft carrier strike group to the waters off the Korean peninsula as a show of force in the face of Pyongyang's continuing belligerence.
A Japanese destroyer also left port Monday, reportedly to escort US naval ships as Japan increases its military role in the region.
The Japanese destroyer Izumo, a helicopter carrier, departed from Yokosuka south of Tokyo in the morning.
Japanese media reports said it will meet up with and escort a US supply ship, a first-time mission under new security legislation that allows Japan's military a greater role overseas. They said the US ship is expected to refuel other American warships, including the USS Carl Vinson carrier strike group.
In Australia, Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull used a commemoration of a World War II naval battle to warn North Korea against destabilizing the region.
"Today Australia and the United States continue to work with our allies to address new security threats around the world," Turnbull said. "Together, we're taking a strong message to North Korea that we will not tolerate reckless, dangerous threats to the peace and stability of our region."
Turnbull is to meet Trump for the first time Thursday in New York.
Trump Not Ruling Out Attacking North Korea
Jason Ditz / AntiWar.com
(April 30, 2017) -- After weeks of mounting international concerns about the possibility of the United States attacking North Korea, President Trump appeared extremely non-committal about the possibility of him ordering such an attack, insisting he wasn't going to rule it out.
"I don't know, I mean, we'll see," Trump insisted on CBS' Meet the Press. This was a surprisingly mild response after weeks of talking about "taking care of" North Korea and bragging about dispatching a "armada" to the Korean Peninsula with an eye toward such a strike.
In these most recent comments, President Trump was back to suggesting that China might solve the situation for him, bragging about his "very special" relationship with Chinese President Xi Jinping. Trump had previously conceded expectations of China imposing a solution on North Korea were unrealistic, and that the situation was more complicated than he'd initially believed. Since then, administration officials have repeatedly gone back to talking up China ensuring the US gets its way on the Korean Peninsula.
After last week's briefing of the entire US Senate at the White House, senators seem to still think that attacking North Korea is a very real possibility, with the ever-hawkish Sen. John McCain (R – AZ) saying it would be "foolish" to rule out an attack, while he too suggested China could use its leverage to resolve the dispute.
The US continues to deploy more forces into the area around North Korea, and with wargames with South Korea ongoing, which simulate an attack on the north, many remain concerned that the real attack could be coming at any time.
Trump Is Not Ruling Out Military Action against North Korea
Kristine Phillips / CBS Face the Nation
(April 30, 2017) -- President Trump did not appear to be ruling out military action against North Korea if the country pushes forward with its nuclear weapons program.
In an interview with CBS News's John Dickerson that aired Sunday on "Face the Nation," Trump said he would not be pleased if North Korea takes that step. "He's going to have to do what he has to do. But he understands we're not going to be very happy," Trump said of the country's leader, Kim Jong Un.
Pressed by Dickerson on whether he means there could be military action, Trump did not confirm, but he also did not deny. "I don't know," he said. "I mean, we'll see."
The president also emphasized China's role in putting pressure on North Korea and said he has established a good relationship with President Xi Jinping.
"I don't think they want to see a destabilized North Korea. I don't think they want to see it. They certainly don't want to see nuclear on -- from their neighbor," he said of China. "They haven't liked it for a long time. But we'll see what happens. The relationship I have with China, it's been already acclaimed as being something very special, something very different than we've ever had. But again, you know, we'll find out whether or not President Xi is able to effect change."
Trump's comments come at a time when North Korea continues to flaunt signs of military strength, including missiles that are, theoretically, powerful enough to reach the United States.
Meanwhile, conflicting ideas on how to deal with the threat from North Korea have emerged from Washington and China.
Secretary of State Rex Tillerson on Friday walked back statements of possible US military action, even offering aid to North Korea if it would end its nuclear weapons programs, the Associated Press reported. Tillerson's suggestions also included restarting negotiations with North Korea and fully enforcing economic sanctions on Pyongyang.
Despite Tillerson's statements about imposing sanctions, China's foreign minister, Wang Yi, did not talk about punitive steps his country might consider, according to the AP. Instead, he raised the possibility of North Korea suspending its nuclear and missile activities and the United States and South Korea halting military drills in the region. The two countries rejected the idea.
Shortly before Trump's CBS interview aired, North Korea fired another ballistic missile -- the 75th since Kim Jong Un assumed power in 2011 -- early Saturday morning, but it exploded almost immediately. Trump then took to Twitter, saying North Korea "disrespected" China's wishes.
Asked about North Korea's recent failed missile launch attempts, Trump said he'd rather not discuss the matter, because he does not want to reveal his next move. But he said the United States cannot allow North Korea to have a better nuclear arsenal.
"It is a chess game. I just don't want people to know what my thinking is. So, eventually, he will have a better delivery system. And if that happens, we can't allow it to happen."
Trump also praised the North Korean leader, describing him as a "pretty smart cookie" who, as a young man in his 20s, assumed control of an entire country. But, the president added, Kim must be stopped.
"We have a situation that we just cannot let -- we cannot let what's been going on for a long period of years continue," Trump said. "And, frankly, this should've been done and taken care of by the Obama administration. Should've been taken care of by the Bush administration. Should've been taken care of by Clinton."
In an interview with Reuters on Thursday, Trump said he prefers a diplomatic approach to settle tensions over North Korea's nuclear program but warned that a conflict is possible.
"There is a chance that we could end up having a major, major conflict with North Korea. Absolutely," Trump said. "We'd love to solve things diplomatically, but it's very difficult."
Anna Fifield contributed to this story.
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