U.S. Ambassador reveals N.Korea had nothing to offer at Hanoi summit

Terry Wilde, April 23, 2019, 9:19 a.m.


The abortive U.S.-North Korea summit in Hanoi was a choice between "a very bad deal and no deal," U.S. Ambassador to South Korea Harry Harris said Monday.

He added North Korean leader Kim Jong-un had nothing of value to offer.

"If we had taken that deal that Kim Jong-un himself offered... all of the weapons of mass destruction would have remained intact," Harris said in a meeting with reporters.

"The choice that President Trump faced at the end of Hanoi was not a choice between a 'big deal' and a 'good-enough deal.' Rather, it was a choice between a very bad deal and no deal. And he made a choice of no deal, which I believe was clearly the right choice."

It was President Moon Jae-in's idea to go for a "good-enough deal" in a phased approach to Nrth Korean denuclearization.

Commenting on the prospect of a third U.S.-North Korea summit, Harris said, "I don't know if Kim wants it to happen. Again, the ball is in his court." He added that when Kim left Hanoi, he must have known what Trump wanted.

Harris also said he disagreed with fears that South Korea is becoming increasingly isolated in regional relations while North Korea strengthens ties with China and Russia and Japan with the U.S. He pointed out that Russia and China took part in drafting sanctions against the North as permanent members of the UN Security Council, and are still participating in the sanctions regime.

But he agreed that the trilateral alliance between Seoul, Washington, and Tokyo would be strengthened if South Korea and Japan manage to improve their frayed ties. 

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