Following the Hanoi summit in February 2019, then-US President Donald Trump was to propose to North Korean leader Kim Jong Un a “lift home” by Air Force One. Trump’s adviser Matthew Pottinger now told the British BBC about this event.
The February 2019 meeting in the capital of Vietnam, Hanoi, was the second-ever summit between US and DPRK leaders. It ended in failure. Negotiations on the denuclearization of North Korea have collapsed, and Trump told reporters that “sometimes you have to get away” from the table.
BBC: A Proposal That “Stunned”
Currently, unknown details of that meeting have been revealed. British public broadcaster BBC wrote on its website on Sunday that before the US delegation left the venue for talks, President Donald Trump made Kim Jong Un a proposal that “stunned even the most seasoned diplomats.”
“President Trump offered Kim to give him a ride home aboard Air Force One. The President knew Kim was going to Hanoi for several days by train via China and said, ‘I can drive you home in two hours if you want.’ Kim declined the offer.” Said the BBC, adviser to the US President Matthew Pottinger, who was then the chief expert on Asia on the National Security Council.
Kim Jong Un is known not to like to travel by airplanes. The reason is not so much fear of flying as safety considerations.
“Trump Thought He Found a New Best Friend”
According to the BBC, the proposal to fly the presidential plane was not the only unusual aspect of Trump and Kim’s relationship. During the first meeting of the two politicians in Singapore in June 2018, “Trump thought he had found a new best friend,” said then-US national security adviser John Bolton.
In Singapore, according to Bolton, Trump surprised members of his negotiating team when he agreed to stop the joint US-South Korean military exercise that Pyongyang had been complaining about for years. “Trump suddenly said, ‘I’m going to cancel wargames’ (as he called the drills).’ They’re not needed, they’re expensive, and that will make (Kim) happy. ‘I couldn’t believe it,’ Bolton said.
The former advisor said Trump made the decision without consulting his team. “It was an unforced error, a concession for which we did not get anything in return” – he assessed.
John Bolton was removed from office by the president in September 2019. “I informed John Bolton that the White House no longer needed his services. I deeply disagreed with many of his suggestions. Many people in my administration had similar observations,” Donald Trump wrote on Twitter at the time. Shortly thereafter, Bolton published a book called “Trump in the White House. Secrets of the Oval Office.”
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Nuclear prognosis at a standstill
Since the Hanoi summit, the nuclear negotiations between Pyongyang and Washington have come to a standstill. The US side explained that North Korea demanded the lifting of international economic sanctions imposed on it in return for only partial dismantling of its nuclear weapons program, to which Washington did not agree.
At the ruling party’s congress in January 2021, Kim Jong Un announced further nuclear rearmament and the construction of “the most powerful military force”. Experts estimate that talks with the administration of the new US President Joe Biden are currently unlikely.
Main photo source: KCNA / PAP / EPA
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