Trump grumbles that North Korea deal not earning wide praise




 

WASHINGTON (AP) - President Donald Trump says his deal with North Korea's Kim Jong Un will save tens of millions of people from a potential nuclear war. Now he just has to get everyone else on board.

Frustrated with lukewarm backing from congressional Republicans, criticism from Democratic opponents and skepticism from allies and the media, Trump made a stop on the North Lawn of the White House to promote his agreement with Kim and challenge the blowback that it's vague and lacking in clear objectives.

The surprise appearance Friday on "Fox & Friends," followed by a combative round of questions with reporters, came days after Trump returned from the Singapore summit expecting a hero's welcome and tweeting that the world now could "sleep well."

Trump, who prides himself as a master deal-maker, feels the agreement represents a major step toward solving an intractable foreign policy problem. He has been grumbling that not everyone agrees.

Trump's frustrations are all the more notable now during the honeymoon phase of the deal, when goodwill has yet to be tempered by reality. The U.S. goal of complete, verifiable and irreversible denuclearization, even in the most optimistic case, probably will take years - and that's assuming North Korea won't violate the accord, as it has every previous nuclear agreement.

The president is facing questions about his public embrace of Kim and the North Korean's autocratic leadership style, including what Trump said was a joke about the obedience of the autocratic Kim's advisers. Trump said he was doing what is necessary for peace.

"I don't want to see a nuclear weapon destroy you and your family," Trump told reporters. He added: "If you're fair, when I came in, people thought we were probably going to war with North Korea. ... If we did, millions of people would have been killed."

The joint statement signed this past week by Trump and Kim promises they will work toward a denuclearized Korean Peninsula, but includes no details on how or when weapons might be eliminated or even reduced. The summit marked the first meeting between a U.S. and North Korean leader in six decades of hostility and did mark a reduction in tensions from last fall, when Trump and Kim were trading insults that raised the specter of war.

Trump emerged from the meeting convinced that he could sell the vaguely worded deal, as evidenced by his hour-plus new conference in Singapore immediately after their session. Since then, he has sent out tweets and messages, peaking with his Friday visit to the White House driveway for the impromptu press availability.

"He's his own communications director. Once again his press team is trying to catch up to him," said GOP consultant Alex Conant. "He's focused more on the optics than the policy, which is a trend we've seen throughout this presidency."

In a video message Friday defending the nuclear agreement, Trump said the U.S. must seize the chance to avert nuclear conflict "at all costs."

"Our world has seen more than enough conflict. If there's a chance at peace, if there's a chance to end the horrible threat of nuclear conflict, then we must pursue it at all costs," he said.

Trump believes President Barack Obama would have gotten a different reception. And Trump thinks he should receive credit for making an agreement on an issue where Obama was unable to make progress.

Trump has called lawmakers to express enthusiasm for the agreement, but also complained that he has not had more robust support from GOP lawmakers, said a person with knowledge of those calls, who spoke on condition of anonymity to share internal conversations.

Among Trump's most vocal supporters is Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, who led negotiations to set up the summit and will hold talks with the North to work out details of the deal.

The challenge of defending the agreement became apparent this past week when Pompeo lashed out at a reporter who asked how the U.S. would verify the North's compliance with the deal.

"I find that question insulting and ridiculous and, frankly, ludicrous," Pompeo said in Seoul, where he was seeking to reassure U.S. ally South Korea about Trump's negotiation, including a surprise halt to joint military exercises involving the U.S. and South Korea.

Trump's press strategy comes after a bare-bones messaging plan around the summit, when White House officials seemed unable to answer questions about the broadly worded joint statement. Trump's announcement that he would halt the exercises appeared to catch Pentagon officials unaware.

White House staff said Trump's seat-of-the-pants changes on the day of the summit undercut their plans to roll out the agreement. Those plans included trying to change the time of his news conference to deciding he personally wanted to reveal the contents of the deal live. He changed his mind after news photographs showing the signed agreement text appeared on television.

___

Associated Press writer Josh Lederman in Seoul, South Korea, contributed to this report.

COMMENTS

More Related News

Climate threat doubter is leading effort to advise Trump
Climate threat doubter is leading effort to advise Trump

The Trump administration is exploring the idea of forming a special committee to look at climate change and security risks, with the effort being coordinated by a 79-year-old physicist who rejects mainstream climate science. A memo to those federal officials asks them to direct any questions to William Happer, a member of Trump's National Security Council and a well-known critic of mainstream climate science findings.

Number of hate groups hits 20-year high amid rise in white supremacy, report finds
Number of hate groups hits 20-year high amid rise in white supremacy, report finds

The nation's demographic shift has emboldened white supremacists, the Southern Poverty Law Center finds in its annual survey.

Trump criticizes California over lawsuit against border wall
Trump criticizes California over lawsuit against border wall

President Donald Trump is criticizing California's lead role in a multistate lawsuit challenging his emergency declaration to pay for a U.S.-Mexico border wall. On Twitter Tuesday, Trump noted last week's ...

U.S. states sue Trump administration in showdown over border wall funds
U.S. states sue Trump administration in showdown over border wall funds
  • US
  • 2019-02-19 03:51:07Z

A coalition of 16 U.S. states led by California sued President Donald Trump and top members of his administration on Monday to block his decision to declare a national emergency to obtain funds for building a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border. The lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California came after Trump invoked emergency powers on Friday to help build the wall that was his signature 2016 campaign promise. Trump's order would allow him to spend on the wall money that Congress appropriated for other purposes.

Alec Baldwin: Trump
Alec Baldwin: Trump's 'SNL' Attack May Be 'A Threat To My Safety'

"The actor known for portraying Trump on the comedy show raised the questionSunday night

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked with *

Cancel reply

Comments

Top News: Latin America

facebook
Hit "Like"
Don't miss any important news
Thanks, you don't need to show me this anymore.