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Trump Flips On Talks, Urges North Korea To ‘Make A Deal’

REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst

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Ryan Pickrell China/Asia Pacific Reporter
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President Donald Trump’s North Korea strategy appears to be one of either intentional or unintentional strategic ambiguity and confusion, as his rhetoric on negotiations with the rogue regime tends to vary greatly.

Speaking in South Korea Tuesday, Trump urged North Korea “to come to the table and to make a deal that’s good for the people of North Korea and the people of the world.” The president made similar statements in an earlier interview at the outset of his Asia tour.

Sharyl Attkisson, host television program “Full Measure,” asked Trump if he would “ever consider sitting down with a dictator,” specifically North Korea’s Kim Jong-un, and he responded that he would “certainly be open to doing that.”

Trump made the same comment last month, telling reporters, “If something can happen where we negotiate, I’m always open to that.”

The president’s rhetoric is surprising given his past aversion to dialogue and negotiations with North Korea.

Trump would be “honored” to meet Kim, the president previously said. North Korea’s repeated provocations, which include around two dozen missile launches and a nuclear weapons test, as well as the untimely death of an American student who was detained in North Korea for over a year, appeared to harden Trump toward the North Korean regime.

 

The U.S. has deployed numerous strategic military assets to the Asia-Pacific, including three aircraft carrier strike groups. Perhaps the president is trying to give the regime a way out while making it clear that if Pyongyang forces America’s hand, the U.S. military will — as Trump said during his U.N. address, “totally destroy” North Korea. This approach is consistent with the administration’s stated policy of “maximum pressure and engagement,” that has until recently been focused almost exclusively on pressure.

In his dealings with North Korea, Trump has been noticeably unpredictable. How this strategy will play out remains to be seen, but the president appears confident that this problem will be resolved. “Ultimately, it will all work out,” he said in South Korea. “It always works out. It has to work out.”

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