In an interview with The New York Times, President Moon Jae-in of South Korea said former president Donald Trump “beat around the bush and failed” on negotiations with North Korea for its denuclearization.
“He beat around the bush and failed to pull it through,” Moon said of Trump. “The most important starting point for both governments is to have the will for dialogue and to sit down face to face at an early date.”
Moon, who is now in his final year in office, said the United States under President Joe Biden should pursue “gradual and phased” denuclearization in negotiations with North Korea, an approach, he admits, while imperfect, is the most realistic.
“I hope that Biden will go down as a historic president that has achieved substantive and irreversible progress for the complete denuclearization and peace settlement on the Korean Peninsula,” he said.
“I believe that if we build on what President Trump has left, we will see this effort come to fruition under Biden’s leadership,” he added.
U.S. intelligence showed that North Korean leader Kim Jong Un did not cease his nation’s nuclear weapons program and had worked to conceal its activity following the 2018 Singapore summit between Trump and Kim, the first time a U.S. president had met with a North Korean leader.
Trump’s admiration for dictators has been well documented. In June 2018, shortly after the Singapore summit, he called Kim a “smart guy” and a “great negotiator.”
“He’s a tough guy. Hey, when you take over a country, tough country, tough people, and you take it over from your father, I don’t care who you are, what you are, how much of an advantage you have, if you could do that at 27 years old, I mean, that’s one in 10,000 that could do that,” Trump told Fox News’ Bret Baier at the time. “So he’s a very smart guy, he’s a great negotiator, but I think we understand each other.”