There’s been a lot of hand-wringing in the media over the last week about where our negotiations for peace stood with the North Koreans.
The media has painted a picture of a deal that was on the razor’s edge and could fall apart any second. But on Thursday, President Trump moved to assuage fears and told the media that the conversations were continuing to progress, and that he was still hopeful that a deal could be worked out.
The President even delivered some specifics for the first time and seemed to indicate that “regime change” was not one of his goals in North Korea.
The media had been reporting that National Security Adviser John Bolton’s recent comments about using a “Libya model” with North Korea had angered the North Koreans. However, President Trump clarified that the plan the United States would be pursuing with North Korea would be the “opposite” of what was used in Libya.
Here’s a partial transcript from RCP:
PRESIDENT TRUMP: Well, nothing has changed on North Korea that we know of. We have not been told anything, and if it does, that’s fine. I think we’ll probably have a very successful meeting.
But we have not been told anything. We’re just reading stories like you are. We’ve heard certain things from South Korea.
But we’ll see what happens. If the meeting happens, it happens. And if it doesn’t, we go on to the next step.
QUESTION: Is this just the typical thing that North Korea does? Did you expect that?
TRUMP: I really don’t know, no. I want to give everybody the benefit of the doubt. I think that — I can only say are people are literally dealing with them right now in terms of making arrangements for the meeting. So that’s a lot different from what you read, but oftentimes what you read if it’s not fake news, it’s true. So we’ll see what happens.
We are dealing with them now. We may have the meeting; we may not have the meeting. If we don’t have it, that will be very interesting. We’ll see what happens. The border is still quite strong.
I think things changed a little bit when they met with China. They met the second time. As you know, Kim Jong Un had a second meeting with China, which was a little bit of a surprise meeting. And we have many of the Chinese here today, as you know, big delegations negotiating trade, because the United States has been ripped off for many, many years by its bad trade deals. I don’t blame China; I blame our leadership of this country from the past. We have been ripped off by China. An evacuation of wealth like no country has ever seen before given to another country that’s rebuilt itself based on a lot of the money they’ve taken out of the United States. And that’s not going to happen anymore.
But there has been a big difference since they had the second meeting with President Xi. With that being said, my attitude is whatever happens happens. Either way, we’re going to be in great shape.
QUESTION: Would you consider a personal outreach to Kim to get him moving towards — keep him moving toward (inaudible)?
TRUMP: Well, we’ll see what happens. Look, you have to want to do it. With deals, that’s what I do, is deals. And with deals, you have to have two parties that want to do it. He absolutely wanted to do it. Perhaps he doesn’t want to do it. Perhaps he spoke with China. That could be right. President Xi, a friend of mine, a great guy, but he’s for China and I’m for the United States, and that’s the way it is, and I suspect it’s never going to change.
But I will say this, we are continuing to negotiate in terms of location, the location that’s to — where to meet, how to meet, rooms, everything else, and they’ve been negotiating like nothing happened. But if you read the newspapers, maybe it won’t happen. I can’t tell you yet. I will tell you very shortly. We’re going to know very soon.
TRUMP: Yeah. Well the Libyan model isn’t a model that we have at all when we’re thinking of North Korea. In Libya, we decimated that country. That country was decimated. There was no deal to keep Qaddafi. The Libyan model that was mentioned was a much different deal.
This would be with Kim Jong-un something where he’d be there. He’d be in his country. He’d be running his country. His country would be very rich. His people are tremendously industrious. If you look at South Korea — this would be, really, a South Korean model in terms of their industry, in terms of what they do. They’re hardworking incredible people.
But the Libyan model was a much different model. We decimated that country. We never said to Qaddafi, oh, we’re going to give you protection, we’re going to give you military strength, we’re going to give you all of these things; we went in and decimated him. And we did the same thing with Iraq. Now, whether or not we should have, I could tell you, I was against it from the beginning, because look what we have right now. We have spent $7 trillion — can you believe that — $7 trillion in the Middle East, right out the window. You might as well throw the money right out the window. And we’ve done a lot of infrastructure. We just had airports approved. You saw that. A lot of things are happening. But we spent $7 trillion in the Middle East, and look where we are right now. It’s pretty sad.
But the model, if you look at that model with Qaddafi, that was a total decimation. We went in there to beat him. Now that model would take place if we don’t make a deal, most likely. But if we make a deal, I think Kim Jong Un is going to be very, very happy. I really believe he’s going to very happy. But this is just the opposite.
And I think when John Bolton made that statement, he was talking about if we’re going to be having a problem, because we cannot let that country have nukes. We just can’t do it. So that’s the way it’s meant. It’s really just the opposite. Because if you look — again, if you look at Syria, that was a total decimation.
QUESTION: Well, what security guarantees are you willing to give to (inaudible)?
TRUMP: Well, I’m willing to do — we’re willing to do a lot. And he’s willing to, I think, do a lot also. And I think we’ll actually have a good relationship, assuming we have the meeting and assuming something comes of it. And he’ll get protections that will be very strong.
Syria never had protections. If you look at Syria — if you look at — or if you look anywhere around the Middle East, you look at Iraq, you look at Libya, with Libya certainly they didn’t have protection; they had the exact opposite. That was absolute decimation. And that’s what we planned to do, and that’s what we did.
QUESTION: Reduced U.S. troop levels a possibility in South Korea?
TRUMP: Well, I’m not going to talk about that. We’re going to say that he will have very adequate protection. And we’ll see how it all turns out.
I think this: The best thing he could ever do is to make a deal. I have a feeling, however, that for various reasons, maybe including trade, because they’ve never had this problem before — China has never had this problem with us — it could very well be that he’s influencing Kim Jong Un. We’ll see what happens. Meaning the president of China, President Xi could be influencing Kim Jong Un.
But we’ll see. That’s just a — look, if you remember a few weeks ago, all of a sudden out of nowhere, Kim Jong Un went to china to say hello again a second time to President Xi. I think they were dedicating an aircraft carrier, paid for largely by the United States.