Bill Richardson, former US ambassador to the United Nations, said Friday he does not support the idea of a third summit with North Korea but instead backs the idea of a series of smaller deals with Pyongyang over its nuclear intentions.
“I believe right now that a summit with Kim Jong Un would not be a good idea,” Richardson told America’s Newsroom.
President Trump on Thursday said he would be open to a third meeting with the North Korean leader despite their last summit abruptly ending six weeks ago in Vietnam, producing no breakthrough. Speaking before an Oval Office meeting with South Korean President Moon Jae-in on Thursday, Trump seemed to open the door to a series of smaller negotiations with North Korea.
“There are various smaller deals that maybe could happen,” Trump said. “Things could happen. You can work out step-by-step pieces, but at this moment we are talking about the big deal. The big deal is we have to get rid of the nuclear weapons.”
Trump stopped short of saying he’d ease sanctions on North Korea but also said he’d decided not to impose additional penalties on the Asian country, a testament he says to his relationship with the North Korean dictator.
But Richardson believes that smaller deals would show “flexibility on both sides.”
“Maybe North Korea freezes its nuclear missile development or activity, shuts down that Yongbyon nuclear facility and in return the United States has some sanctions relief because both sides are really far apart,” Richardson said. “North Korea wants all sanctions relief on everything – we can’t do that. And we want North Korea to totally denuclearize… that’s not going to happen, so something in between.”
Richardson adds that Trump should leave the deal-making to professional negotiators or the State Department.
South Korea has also come out in recent days and said that the breakdown in talks in Vietnam should not be seen as a failure but as the catalyst to a bigger and better deal between North Korea and the U.S. South Korea, which is right in the line of fire of North Korea, has also been pushing for a third summit.
“(South Korean President Moon Jae-in) wants a deal between the U.S. and North Korea because it’s good politically for him… it’s good for his country,” Richardson said. “In some ways… he’s pushed us a little too far to make deals when we have to coordinate better.”