Offbeat Bolton takes back seat, but remains looming North Korea summit presence

03:31  07 june  2018
03:31  07 june  2018 Source:   reuters.com

Russia invites North Korea's Kim Jong Un to visit

  Russia invites North Korea's Kim Jong Un to visit <p>Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov in Pyongyang on Thursday invited North Korean leader Kim Jong Un to visit Russia, Moscow said, during the first meeting between the head of the reclusive state and a Russian official.</p>Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov in Pyongyang on Thursday invited North Korean leader Kim Jong Un to visit Russia, Moscow said, during the first meeting between the head of the reclusive state and a Russian official.

John Bolton appears to have taken a back seat to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo for the historic Trump-Kim meeting. Bolton 's demand angered North Korea , which threatened to pull out of the summit .

John Bolton takes over as national security adviser today in the midst of a new national security crisis the looming diplomatic encounter with North Korea and ongoing challenges like the war in Diplomacy over North Korean denuclearization remains fluid and volatile, but one thing remains

Just weeks after John Bolton’s hardline rhetoric infuriated North Korea and nearly derailed a planned summit between Kim Jong Un and President Donald Trump, the U.S. national security adviser appears to have taken a back seat to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo for the historic meeting.

North Korea's Kim Jong Un says North's will for denuclearization 'unchanged': KCNA

  North Korea's Kim Jong Un says North's will for denuclearization 'unchanged': KCNA <p>North Korea's will for the denuclearization of the Korean peninsula remains "unchanged, consistent and fixed," said leader Kim Jong Un, according to the North's state news agency on Friday.</p>Making the remarks in a meeting with visiting Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, Kim added he hoped North Korea-U.S. relations and denuclearization of the Korean peninsula would both be solved on a "stage-by-stage" basis, KCNA said.

U.S. National Security Advisor John Bolton nearly succeeded in sabotaging talks with North Korea . But the summit train is back on its tracks. Completely dismantling North Korea 's nuclear program, which is unlikely to ever happen, would anyway take ten to fifteen years (pdf).

Rather than offering a preview of next week's main event, issues surrounding North Korea took a backseat during this year's Shangri-La Dialogue, Asia's foremost security forum. MUST WATCH. Why Singapore was chosen for Trump-Kim summit 02:02.

While the hawkish Bolton – who has adopted a lower-key approach in recent days - is expected to be in Singapore for the talks on Tuesday, Pompeo has taken the lead as the administration assumes a softer tone toward Pyongyang ahead of the summit, several U.S. officials said.

Pompeo’s ascendance combined with Bolton’s more muted public role illustrates how the sometimes messy power dynamic in Trump’s inner circle has played out going into the first-ever meeting between U.S. and North Korean leaders.

But Trump’s ability to deliver the biggest foreign policy success of his presidency could rest heavily on the team he has hastily cobbled together to advise him after announcing in March he was prepared to meet Kim in an effort to persuade the North Korean leader to give up a nuclear arsenal that now threatens the United States.

Trump lavished praise on Kim Jong Un's 'very nice' letter. A few minutes later, he said he hadn't even read it.

  Trump lavished praise on Kim Jong Un's 'very nice' letter. A few minutes later, he said he hadn't even read it. Trump made the decision to meet with Kim Jong Un based on a letter he didn't even read. Trump announced on Friday that he would meet with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un on June 12 in Singapore after all. He decided the summit was back on after meeting with a North Korean envoy who came to deliver a letter from Kim. The two leaders have been swapping letters in recent weeks, and apparently their pen pal relationship has paid off — Trump excitedly told reporters that relations between the U.S. and North Korea were moving in a "positive" direction. The latest letter changed Trump's mind after he scrapped plans for a summit in Singapore last month, he said.

“That will give North Korea an excuse to step away from its summit proposal. The Trump- Bolton team then will ramp up pressure. And we will hear more talk about a pre-emptive strike and see tensions rising again on the Korean Peninsula.”

"Secretary Pompeo has always been the president's lead on the North Korea summit ," the And he's worked to soften the harsher rhetoric of his aides, including walking back Bolton and Pence's The administration insists that, for now, sanctions relief won't come until North Korea takes firm steps

“This summit is being thrown together faster than any we’ve ever seen for something this important," said one U.S. official, speaking on condition of anonymity. “So unless we want the president to get played by Kim, a lot rests with the team that's putting this all together."

Pompeo, first as Trump’s CIA director and now as his chief diplomat, quickly made North Korea his main focus. But even as Pompeo was launching delicate diplomacy, Bolton – an outspoken former U.N. ambassador with a history of fraught dealings with Pyongyang - took up his post and began pushing a tougher approach to North Korea that he has long advocated.

Never was that clearer than when Bolton went on television on May 13, just days after Pompeo returned from a second visit to Pyongyang, and pressed North Korea to follow the “Libya model” in nuclear negotiations. Libya unilaterally surrendered its nuclear weapons program in 2003, but its leader, Muammar Gaddafi, was killed in 2011 by NATO-backed rebels.

Trump lavished praise on Kim Jong Un's 'very nice' letter. A few minutes later, he said he hadn't even read it.

  Trump lavished praise on Kim Jong Un's 'very nice' letter. A few minutes later, he said he hadn't even read it. Trump made the decision to meet with Kim Jong Un based on a letter he didn't even read. Trump announced on Friday that he would meet with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un on June 12 in Singapore after all. He decided the summit was back on after meeting with a North Korean envoy who came to deliver a letter from Kim. The two leaders have been swapping letters in recent weeks, and apparently their pen pal relationship has paid off — Trump excitedly told reporters that relations between the U.S. and North Korea were moving in a "positive" direction. The latest letter changed Trump's mind after he scrapped plans for a summit in Singapore last month, he said.

Arranging the first U.S.- North Korea summit is a quick way to score a tangible diplomatic achievement to present to voters. Conspicuously absent were Vice President Mike Pence and national security adviser John Bolton , whose tough rhetoric has riled Pyongyang.

But rather than offering a preview of next week's main event, issues surrounding North Korea took a backseat during this year's Shangri-La Dialogue, Asia's foremost security forum. That's not to say the subject of North Korea was not entirely absent from the summit 's scheduled panel discussions.

Bolton’s demand angered North Korea, which threatened to pull out of the summit. Trump, who according to one U.S. official was furious that Bolton had made the Libya comparison,

sought to salvage the meeting by disavowing his remarks.

But North Korea responded harshly. Trump on May 24 then canceled the summit, only to reinstate it a week later after meeting a North Korean envoy at the White House, where the president appeared to back away from his demand for Pyongyang’s swift, complete denuclearization.

Bolton – once denounced by North Korea as “human scum” during his days at the State Department under former President George W. Bush - was conspicuously absent from the Oval Office encounter, raising speculation he was sidelined.

The White House did not respond to a request for comment.

'TAKEN THE HINT'

Trump, however, has not frozen Bolton out on North Korea and he remains a key player, according to multiple U.S. officials.

Bolton, known as a skilled bureaucratic operator, has “taken the hint” to assume a lower profile and is mindful that his earlier clashes with Pyongyang could cause problems that should be avoided, one of the officials said. Before taking office, Bolton openly advocated North Korean “regime change.”

Trump warns Kim Jong Un on North Korea summit: 'It's a one-time shot'

  Trump warns Kim Jong Un on North Korea summit: 'It's a one-time shot' President Trump on Saturday expressed optimism about his summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, but warned that the opportunity for Kim won’t happen again, calling it a “one-time shot.” Trump made his remarks in Charlevoix, Canada, at the end of the G-7 summit in a press conference as he prepared to depart for Singapore where he will meet with Kim on Tuesday to discuss issues such as North Korea denuclearization and an end to the Korean War.Trump expressed hope that the summit would be good for world peace but also for the dictatorship.

US- North Korea Summit , back on track after meetings? ‘John Bolton wants to sabotage the US-N. Korea Summit ’ - analyst. Kim Yong Chol meeting Secretary of State Mike Pompeo as hope remains for a U.S. summit with North …

RELATED: North Korea summit back on. Little more than a week after he had canceled the June 12 meeting amid criticism from Kim Jong Un, Trump spoke warmly about the Smith says his number one policy goal remains containing the threat of North Korea and preventing a devastating conflict.

Bolton has not commented publicly since the president distanced himself from the Libya comparison and the White House insisted he would follow the “Trump model.”

Despite that, White House adviser Kellyanne Conway said on Wednesday that Bolton would travel to Singapore. “Secretary of State Pompeo has clearly taken the lead on the negotiations,” she told reporters. “But the national security adviser is going, he’s going to Singapore and will be part of the talks.”

Pompeo initially developed a rapport with Trump by delivering his morning intelligence briefings. Trump’s faith in Pompeo is seen as a key factor for entrusting him with the North Korea portfolio. But some U.S. officials and analysts have expressed concern about what they see as the former Republican congressman’s habit of telling Trump what he wants to hear.

Suzanne DiMaggio, a senior fellow at the New America Foundation think tank, suggested that if negotiations soured, "then we have Mr. Bolton looming in the background, ready to jump in.”

Also expected to play an important role on Trump’s summit team is Matt Pottinger, Trump’s Asia adviser who reports to Bolton at the National Security Council. The former journalist and ex-U.S. Marine has helped coordinate North Korea policy and is seen by Korea watchers as a pragmatic voice.

Sung Kim, a veteran diplomat serving as ambassador to the Philippines, was called in to lead a small delegation that met in recent days with North Korean officials in the demilitarized zone between the Koreas to discuss the summit agenda. He is an ex-ambassador to Seoul and a former nuclear negotiator with Pyongyang.

It was a reminder the administration remains short on Asia expertise, especially after the departure of North Korea negotiator Joseph Yun, delays in getting in place a new ambassador to South Korea and the lack of a Senate-confirmed top diplomat for East Asia.

(Reporting by Matt Spetalnick and David Brunnstrom; Additional reporting by John Walcott and Steve Holland; Editing by Mary Milliken and Peter Cooney)

Trump: North Korea starts returning remains of US soldiers .
President Donald Trump says North Korea has started returning the remains of US soldiers missing during the Korean War.&nbsp;The president also said returning a military salute to a North Korean three-star general was being respectful. Says Trump: When Kim speaks "his people sit up for attention. I want my people to do the same.

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