On May 1 US President Donald Trump said in an interview with Bloomberg News that he is open to the possibility of meeting with North Korean dictator Kim Jong-Un.
“If it would be appropriate for me to meet with [Kim Jong-Un], I would absolutely,” Trump said. “I would be honored to do it. If it’s under the — again, under the right circumstances. But I would — I would do that.”
Trump’s statement came as a surprise to many and, as has often been the case since the beginning of his administration, it is not clear if what he says is part of a thought-out grand strategy or just an impromptu comment. But the words of a US President matter, regardless of whether they are the expression of a coherent policy or not.
At a press conference held on May 2, US and South Korean journalists asked Geng Shuang, spokesperson of the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs, about China’s official position on the issue of a possible Trump-Kim meeting.
Geng replied that China “has always believed that dialogue and consultation and the peaceful resolution of the nuclear issue on the Korean peninsula are the only feasible ways to achieve the denuclearization of the Korean peninsula and to preserve peace and stability.”
Geng further stated that the US and North Korea should “as soon as possible find a breakthrough in the resumption of negotiations” and “make political decisions, take action, develop trust so as to ease tensions.”
Trump’s ambiguous statements have left the public uncertain as to what the official policy and strategy of the United States is in regard to North Korea. Neither China nor the two Koreas know so far if the President’s remarks signalled his intention to set up a meeting with Kim Jong-Un. It is also unclear what message Trump would convey to Kim if the two were to meet.
Trump has repeatedly shown himself prone to being influenced by foreign leaders. At the beginning of April Trump met with Chinese leader Xi Jinping. The US President apparently believed that China could easily use its economic and political leverage to stop North Korea’s nuclear programme. Xi then explained to him the long and complex history of Sino-Korean relations. “After listening for 10 minutes, I realized it’s not so easy,” Trump admitted to The Wall Street Journal.
Trump was also apparently impressed by Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte. Trump told Bloomberg News: “I’ve had numerous conversations with the leader of the Philippines and — and he’s got a big problem. He’s got a massive drug problem. He’s been very, very tough on that drug problem, but he has a massive drug problem.”
According to Amnesty International, Duterte’s “war on drugs” resulted in around 9,000 extrajudicial executions carried out by police and unknown armed individual since July 2016.
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