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Trump: I'll hold nuclear talks with North Korea's Kim

Published 18/05/2016

Donald Trump says he is willing to talk to North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, pictured
Donald Trump says he is willing to talk to North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, pictured

Republican presidential hopeful Donald Trump has said he would hold talks with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un to try to halt the communist nation's nuclear programme.

"I would speak to him, I would have no problem speaking to him," Mr Trump said.

"At the same time I would put a lot of pressure on China because economically we have tremendous power over China," he told Reuters news agency.

It was unclear whether Mr Trump was referring to bilateral talks between the US and North Korea or a face-to-face meeting. But either would mark a significant departure from the current situation.

There has been little dialogue between the US and North Korea since Pyongyang pulled out of international aid-for-disarmament negotiations with the US and other nations in 2008.

The Obama administration says it has been willing to resume those talks, but only if the North commits to the aim of giving up nuclear weapons.

Kim has instead doubled down on his nuclear programme, holding two nuclear test explosions since he took power four years ago. He has also launched long-range rockets into space, intensifying fears that the North is moving closer to have a nuclear-tipped ballistic missile that could threaten the American mainland.

In response, the US has led the international effort to step up sanctions on Pyongyang.

Democratic presidential front-runner Hillary Clinton's campaign jumped on Mr Trump's remarks.

Referring to Mr Trump's recent feud with Prime Minister David Cameron, Clinton adviser Jake Sullivan said: "Let me get this straight. Donald Trump insults the leader of our closest ally, then turns around and says he'd love to talk to Kim Jong Un?

"I suppose that makes sense for him, since he also praised Kim Jong Un for executing his uncle and seems to have a bizarre fascination with foreign strongmen like (Russian president Vladimir) Putin and Kim. But his approach to foreign policy makes no sense for the rest of us."

No sitting US president has met the leader of North Korea, although former US presidents have met Kim Jong Un's predecessors on visits to the isolated nation. Jimmy Carter met Kim Il Sung, the current leader's grandfather, in 1994 - a meeting that paved the way for a disarmament agreement negotiated by the Clinton administration that later collapsed.

Bill Clinton met Kim Jong Il, the current leader's father, in 2009, when he travelled to Pyongyang to secure the release of two detained American journalists.

As a presidential candidate, Barack Obama was criticised by both Republican and Democratic rivals for saying he would be willing to meet leaders of nations like Iran, Cuba and North Korea without pre-conditions. Mrs Clinton said at the time that Mr Obama's position was naive and irresponsible.

Mr Obama cast his position as a break from George Bush's foreign policy and the notion that the US could punish a country by not talking to its leaders.

Now in his eighth year as president, Mr Obama has never met North Korea's leaders. He has met Cuban president Raul Castro, though their first meeting came only after negotiations between their countries about normalising relations.

Mr Obama was willing to meet Iran's President Hassan Rouhani at the United Nations in 2013, but the Iranian leader turned down the meeting. The two spoke by phone days later - a call that came as the US eyed nuclear talks with its long-time foe.

In the Reuters interview, Mr Trump also called for a renegotiation of the Paris climate accord, a global effort aimed at reducing carbon emissions, and said that, if elected president, he would dismantle most of the Dodd-Frank regulations that were put in place after the financial crisis.

He also said he was planning to release a detailed policy platform on the economy in two weeks.

Meanwhile, Mr Trump and Fox News TV anchor Megyn Kelly called a truce nearly nine months after the billionaire took offence at her questioning during a Republican debate.

Mr Trump bristled at a question Ms Kelly asked and in the months that followed, repeatedly attacked her on Twitter.

But a few weeks ago the two sat down for an interview which was broadcast on Tuesday and Mr Trump appeared sheepish when pressed by Ms Kelly on how he had described her as a "bimbo".

He also said he understood that she was simply doing her job and "liked" where their relationship was now.

Mr Trump also seemed contrite over retweeting a post that mocked the looks of Heidi Cruz, the wife of former party rival Senator Ted Cruz.

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From Belfast Telegraph