WASHINGTON (NYTIMES, BLOOMBERG) - Kim Jong Un, the North Korean leader, “got back on his hands and knees and begged” for the United States to revive the Singapore summit after President Donald Trump abruptly scrapped it last month, one of Trump’s lawyers, Rudy Giuliani, said Wednesday (June 7).
The remarks by Giuliani, apparently intended to portray Trump as a tough negotiator, may have lobbed a disruptive obstacle into the salvaged meeting less than a week before it is set to happen.
“If the North Koreans needed a reason to cancel the meeting, the Americans just gave it to them,” said Evans J.R. Revere, a former State Department diplomat who specialises in North Korea.
Giuliani made the remarks in Israel during a capital markets conference, where he was explaining the head-spinning sequence of events that led Trump to cancel and then revive the summit.
Kim "got back on his hands and knees and begged for it, which is exactly the position you want to put him in," after Trump cancelled the summit, the Associated Press reported Giuliani as saying.
Giuliani later defended his remarks.
"Those are my comments. They have nothing to do with the administration," he said in a telephone interview. "That is my interpretation."
In a separate interview with The Associated Press, Giuliani rejected suggestions that such comments might spoil the summit meeting, saying that Kim must understand that the United States is in a position of strength.
“It is pointing out that the president is the stronger figure,” Giuliani was quoted as saying by AP. “And you’re not going to have useful negotiations unless he accepts that.”
Giuliani said he has not had any response from the administration about his comments and does not expect them to upset the North Koreans.
"The only ones sensitive about this are the media," he said.
Trump abruptly announced the cancellation of his meeting with Kim on May 24 after a North Korean official threatened a “nuclear-to-nuclear showdown” with the United States and called Vice-President Mike Pence a “political dummy” for having suggested that Kim had asked for the meeting under pressure.
The North Koreans also were offended by John Bolton, Trump’s national security adviser, who has expressed hostility toward the North and has insisted that it disarm before other issues can be discussed.
Trump said then that under the circumstances, a meeting with Kim would not be appropriate given what the president called North Korea’s “tremendous anger and open hostility.”
Eight days later Trump just as abruptly said the summit meeting was back on, asserting that “we’re over that, totally over that, and now we’re going to deal and we’re going to really start a process,” after meeting with a high-ranking North Korean envoy who hand-delivered a personal letter from Kim.
“Well, somehow North Korea, after he cancelled the summit because they insulted the vice president, they insulted his national security adviser and they also said that they would go to nuclear war against us, they were going to defeat us in a nuclear war,” Giuliani told the conference in Tel Aviv.
“We said, ‘Well we’re not going to have a summit under those circumstances.”’
After that, Giuliani said, Kim “got back on his hands and knees and begged for it, which is exactly the position you want to put him in.”
It is not the first time Giuliani has inserted himself into the Trump administration’s foreign policy, nor the first time his remarks have threatened to stir new issues for the president. Last month, Trump publicly undercut Giuliani’s narrative about a payment by Trump’s personal lawyer, Michael Cohen, to actress Stephanie Clifford, who goes by the stage name Stormy Daniels.
Trump said Giuliani would eventually “get his facts straight.”