Trump Economic Adviser Ties G-7 Tension to North Korea Meeting

Trump Economic Adviser Ties G-7 Tension to North Korea Meeting

By Noah Weiland June 10, 2018                The New York Times

WASHINGTON — President Trump’s top economic adviser said on Sunday that Mr. Trump had pulled out of a joint statement with allies at the Group of 7 meeting over the weekend because a “betrayal” by the Canadian prime minister had threatened to make Mr. Trump appear weak before his summit meeting on Tuesday with North Korea’s leader.

The adviser, Larry Kudlow, said that Mr. Trump had no choice but to take the action after the prime minister, Justin Trudeau, said in a news conference that Canada would not be bullied by the United States on trade.

Mr. Trump “is not going to let a Canadian prime minister push him around,” Mr. Kudlow said, adding, “He is not going to permit any show of weakness on a trip to negotiate with North Korea.”

Mr. Trudeau made his remarks, which were largely measured in tone, after the president had agreed to sign the joint statement and had left for his historic meeting with Kim Jong-un in Singapore. Negotiators had struggled to write a compromise communiqué addressing trade and other issues that the seven nations could agree on, but issued one on Saturday believing that there would be consensus.

In his news conference, the prime minister made a vow to protect his country’s interests that was not unlike the promises Mr. Trump himself has made for the United States. But Mr. Kudlow said that the timing of the comments meant that Mr. Trudeau had “stabbed us in the back.”

“We joined the communiqué in good faith,” Mr. Kudlow said on CNN’s “State of the Union” program. “You just don’t behave that way, O.K.? It’s a betrayal.”

He added that Mr. Trump “had every right — every right — to push back on this amateurish Trudeau scheme.”

Peter Navarro, the president’s top trade adviser, echoed Mr. Kudlow’s criticism of Mr. Trudeau, though in even harsher terms.

“There’s a special place in hell for any foreign leader that engages in bad-faith diplomacy with President Donald J. Trump and then tries to stab him in the back on the way out the door,” Mr. Navarro said on “Fox News Sunday.”

On Sunday, Democrats expressed alarm at Mr. Trump’s decision to back away from the joint G-7 statement.

“This wasn’t just with Trudeau. This is with our best allies,” Senator Dianne Feinstein of California said on CNN. “Not to sign a statement of solidarity, which stands for everything that we stand for, is a big mistake.”

Senator John McCain, Republican of Arizona, offered a message to foreign nations in a tweet.

“To our allies: bipartisan majorities of Americans remain pro-free trade, pro-globalization & supportive of alliances based on 70 years of shared values,” he wrote on Saturday. “Americans stand with you, even if our president doesn’t.”

On Saturday, Mr. Trudeau said Canada would retaliate against United States tariffs on steel and aluminum products. The president apparently heard Mr. Trudeau’s comments while flying on Air Force One and quickly lashed out on Twitter.

“Based on Justin’s false statements at his news conference, and the fact that Canada is charging massive Tariffs to our U.S. farmers, workers and companies, I have instructed our U.S. Reps not to endorse the Communique as we look at Tariffs on automobiles flooding the U.S. Market!” Mr. Trump wrote.

He added that Mr. Trudeau was “very dishonest and weak” and “acted so meek and mild.”

Mr. Trump’s response amounted to a declaration of political war on one of the country’s closest allies, and further isolated the United States after months of protectionist threats that have kept Mr. Trudeau on edge.

In a tweet on Sunday, Mr. Trudeau chose to focus on what he said was the substance of the summit meeting.

“The historic and important agreement we all reached at #G7Charlevoix will help make our economies stronger & people more prosperous, protect our democracies, safeguard our environment and protect women & girls’ rights around the world,” he wrote. “That’s what matters.”

The Canadian foreign minister, Chrystia Freeland, said on Sunday that “Canada does not believe that ad hominem attacks are a particularly appropriate or useful way to conduct our relations with other countries.”

She added, “We particularly refrain from ad hominem attacks when it comes to our allies.”

Canada was not the only target at the G-7 meeting. During closed-door sessions on Friday, Mr. Trump went around the room, declaring ways that each of the nations had mistreated the United States, according to a European official. Mr. Trump has long maintained that his country has been duped by others into signing disastrous trade agreements.

His comments also came just hours after Mr. Trudeau had tried to paint a more civil picture of the summit meeting, which was held in a quiet resort town north of Quebec City.

Mr. Trudeau had said he was “inspired” by the talks between the seven international allies on economic and foreign policy questions. Mr. Trump had posed for pictures with the other world leaders, gripping and grinning amid talks that White House aides insisted were friendly.

Mr. Kudlow, a free-trader who joined the administration in March, said on Sunday that the United States had in fact been near a substantive agreement with Canada on the North American Free Trade Agreement, which has been the subject of difficult negotiations.

“We were very close to making a deal with Canada on NAFTA, bilaterally perhaps,” he said on CNN, though he did not elaborate.

North Korea says Japan must adapt to join diplomatic fray

North Korea says Japan must adapt to join diplomatic fray

KYODO 2018.5.8              The Japan Times

BEIJING – Japan must change its tune and adopt a new approach toward North Korea if it really wants to join the diplomatic fray in affecting rapidly evolving developments on the Korean Peninsula, the Rodong Sinmun said in a commentary on Sunday.

“What it (Japan) has to remember is that it can never evade the fate of the left-out person if it behaves disgusting while repeating the old cliche of ‘sanctions’ and ‘pressure’ as now,” said the official newspaper of North Korea’s ruling Workers’ Party.

It said the Japanese government was resorting to “flattering the American master, neighboring big powers and even the south Korean authorities, but it will never step on the sacred land of the Republic unless it drops its inveterate repugnancy and bad habit.”

White House privately skeptical of North Korea’s plans to freeze nuclear testing


White House privately skeptical of North Korea’s plans to freeze nuclear testing             The Washington Post

By David Nakamura and John Hudson   April 21 at 5:17 PM

PALM BEACH, Fla. — The Trump White House is reacting skeptically in private to North Korea’s announcement of plans to freeze nuclear weapons testing, warning that dictator Kim Jong Un could be setting a trap and promising not to back off a hard-line stance ahead of a potential leaders’ summit.

President Trump called Pyongyang’s move “progress” and “good news” in a pair of tweets after the news broke Friday evening. Behind the scenes, however, his aides cautioned Saturday that Kim’s statement that the North would halt testing and shutter one nuclear facility was more notable for what he left out: a direct pledge to work toward nuclear disarmament.

Although some foreign policy analysts were heartened that Kim appeared eager to set a positive tone for his summit with Trump, which could come in late May or early June, Trump aides were less enthused. In their view, Kim’s moves aimed to offer relatively modest pledges — which could be quickly reversed — to create the “illusion” that he is “reasonable” and willing to compromise.

That, the Trump aides said, would make it more politically difficult for the United States to reject the North’s demands.

Kim’s announcement early Saturday in Pyongyang surprised White House officials, who had been anticipating a statement to the North Korean people in advance of a summit with Trump but did not know when or how he would deliver it.

North Korea’s state news agency read Kim’s statement on television and issued a written version in English. The young dictator pledged to turn his regime’s attention away from weapons development and toward boosting the economy on an “upward spiral.”

White House aides viewed the statement as a signal that Kim’s goal is to get the United States and its allies to ease the punishing economic sanctions that the Trump administration helped enact since the president took office. But they said the administration has learned from the country’s past mistakes, when North Korea violated agreements over its nuclear program after sanctions were lifted.

The aides spoke on the condition of anonymity to freely discuss private talks.

Kim is set to meet with South Korean President Moon Jae-in this week in what is being viewed as a preliminary summit ahead of the face-to-face with Trump. A date and location have not been announced for the latter summit.

South Korean officials said that Kim has signaled he is willing to discuss ways to formally end the Korean War, whose hostilities have been suspended since a 1953 armistice, and that he has dropped the North’s long-standing demand that the United States withdraw tens of thousands of troops stationed on the peninsula.

A key test for Trump will be to navigate the competing pressures of the U.S. allies in the region. Moon’s liberal administration is attempting to broker a deal to reduce tensions over fears of war, while conservative Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who views Kim’s recent moves more suspiciously, is pressing Trump to ensure that Japan’s interests are protected in any final agreement.

Abe used his two-day visit to Mar-a-Lago, the president’s winter retreat in Florida, to emphasize that Japan will insist on “complete, verifiable and irreversible” steps toward denuclearization. The Trump administration has taken a similar position, raising the question of whether anything that falls short of such an agreement at a summit would be a failure.

Some Washington-based analysts said Saturday that a more realistic path for Trump would be to tacitly acknowledge that the North, after relentlessly developing its arsenal for three decades, will not take immediate, concrete steps to eliminate the program.

Another option, they suggested, would be to move first to enact constraints on the North’s arsenal, such as capping the program with limits to contain the threat. That would allow the North the security of maintaining some level of nuclear proficiency while enacting curbs on key bomb fuels and delivery systems. At the same time, the two countries would work toward establishing greater trust that could lead to more serious talks over full disarmament down the road.

“The reality is that North Korea has nuclear weapons, and we have to deal with that reality,” said Toby Dalton, the co-director of the nuclear policy program at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.

In March, Dalton published an essay promoting a cap aimed at preventing the North from achieving “a fully-fledged, combat-ready arsenal.”

“The gap between reality and what we’re planning for is problematic,” Dalton said, “as it creates expectations that can’t be met in the summit process, and we’re back to where we were.”

Seeking to put caps on the North’s program could be interpreted as the Trump administration accepting North Korea as a nuclear state, a controversial idea inside the U.S. government, where a policy of nuclear nonproliferation has long been taken as an article of faith.

Senior U.S. diplomats for Asia, including Susan Thornton, the acting assistant secretary of state, and Mark Lambert, the head of the Korea desk, are advocates of a policy that seeks full denuclearization. But as reports circulated about a potential “bloody nose” military strike on North Korea last year, some U.S. officials argued for containment as a short- or medium-term strategy aimed at preventing military action.

The idea of openly acknowledging North Korea as a nuclear power, however, remains an outlier position, especially given the assumption that it could trigger a nuclear arms race, prompting Japan and South Korea to pursue their own weapons.

Jon Wolfsthal, who oversaw arms control and nonproliferation policy at the National Security Council under President Barack Obama, said a major concern over accepting the North as a nuclear power, even for a limited period, is that Pyongyang would “pocket that and walk away. A lot of people are worried that’s exactly what Kim is trying to do with the summit.”

But Michael Auslin, an Asia scholar at the conservative Hoover Institution, said it is increasingly difficult for the United States to deny reality.

“We’re seeing a de facto normalization of North Korea’s relationship with the world, as Kim Jong Un met with [Chinese President] Xi Jinping, plans to meet with Moon, and now Abe wants a meeting, and then Trump will meet him,” Auslin said. “The reality is that everyone understands these discussions are about a program that has made North Korea a nuclear power.”

Hudson reported from Washington.