US President Donald Trump could push to meet North Korean leader Kim Jong-un for the third time in October to bolster his November reelection, said former national security adviser John Bolton.
“If the president felt he was in deep, deep trouble, another meeting with his friend Kim Jong-un might look like something that could turn things upside down again,” Bolton told a video press conference hosted by New York foreign journalists Thursday.
But he was doubtful whether the North would respond to Trump’s “October surprise,” noting the regime’s demolition of an inter-Korean liaison office weeks ago. The move is seen as Kim’s discontent with Seoul and Washington over delays in sanctions relief he demanded.
Bolton’s remarks stood in sharp contrast to US Deputy Secretary of State Stephen Biegun, who days earlier called another Trump-Kim summit “probably unlikely.”
Experts were also skeptical.
Joseph Yun, former US special representative for North Korea policy, told Voice of America that Trump was facing more pressing domestic challenges – a COVID-19-induced recession and racial divisions – to cram the North Korea issue into his agenda.
Robert Gallucci, a former US chief negotiator with North Korea over its nuclear program, told VOA that Pyongyang would not seek to engage with Trump, who might be “disappearing in five months.”
President Moon Jae-in this week floated the idea of a potential Donald Trump-Kim Jong-un meeting, with his office saying it had conveyed Moon’s views to Washington, and that officials there were making efforts to open the talks.
Shin Jong-woo, a senior analyst at the Korea Defense and Security Forum, said Moon’s remarks were an expression of what should be done, as opposed to what could be done.
“His office knows better,” he said.
By Choi Si-young (email@example.com