US National Security Adviser John Bolton says Trump-Kim summit was not a failure

White House national security adviser John Bolton (left) and others attend the extended bilateral meeting in the Metropole hotel with North Korea's leader Kim Jong Un and his delegation during the second North Korea-US summit in Hanoi, Vietnam, on Fe
White House national security adviser John Bolton (left) and others attend the extended bilateral meeting in the Metropole hotel with North Korea's leader Kim Jong Un and his delegation during the second North Korea-US summit in Hanoi, Vietnam, on Feb 28, 2019.PHOTO: REUTERS

WASHINGTON (WASHINGTON POST) - National security adviser John Bolton on Sunday (March 3) defended United States President Donald Trump's second summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, saying the president was right not to make a deal that wasn't in the best interests of the United States.

"I don't agree at all that it was a failed summit," Bolton said on Fox News Sunday.

"I think the obligation of the president of the United States is to defend and advance American national security interests. And I think he did that by rejecting a bad deal and by trying again to persuade Kim Jong Un to take the big deal that really could make a difference for North Korea."

Trump abruptly cut short his meeting with Kim in Hanoi last week after the two leaders were unable to reach a deal to dismantle Pyongyang's nuclear weapons.

The president first met with the North Korean leader in June in Singapore.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi was among those needling Trump about the collapse of the talks in Hanoi.

At a news conference last week, the California Democrat suggested that it should not have taken Trump so long to recognise that Kim is not serious about denuclearisation.

 
 
 
 

"The prospect for success seemed dim in light of the insincerity of Kim Jong Un," Pelosi said.

But Bolton maintained Sunday that Trump is "not desperate for a deal - not with North Korea, not with anybody - if it's contrary to American national interests."

In an appearance on CBS' "Face the Nation," Bolton said there is "no expiration date" for talks on denuclearisation.

"The president is fully prepared to keep negotiating at lower levels or to speak to Kim Jong Un again when it's appropriate," he said.

The national security adviser also defended Trump's statement that he took Kim at his word that he wouldn't have allowed American college student Otto Warmbier to have been mistreated had he known about Warmbier's situation.

"What he's trying to convey is that he's got a difficult line to walk to negotiate with Kim Jong Un," Bolton said on "Fox News Sunday," arguing that Trump's statement did not necessarily mean that he believed what Kim was saying.

Warmbier's family says he was brutally tortured while imprisoned in North Korea. He died in 2017 after returning to the United States in a coma.

In a statement Friday, Warmbier's parents, Fred and Cindy Warmbier, sharply rebuked Trump for holding Kim blameless for their son's death.

Bolton on Sunday called for North Korea to give a clear accounting of who was responsible for Warmbier's death and suggested that American national interests were "weightier and more important" than individual cases such as Warmbier's.

"Foreign leaders who are friends of ours lie to our faces, too," he said on Fox.