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Forgotten love?

Nov 09,2019
PARK HYUN-YOUNG
The author is a Washington correspondent of the JoongAng Ilbo.

On Oct. 17, acting White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney held a news conference. He announced that next year’s G7 summit would be held at a Florida resort owned by U.S. President Donald Trump — a decision that was later revoked. In a Q&A session, a reporter asked about the president’s reaction to North Korea breaking the working-level denuclearization negotiations with the United States. Mulvaney seemed perplexed and said, “If the question is responding to breaking off talks, is there news about it in the last couple of days?” After the reporter said it happened in Stockholm on Oct. 6, Mulvaney responded, “Okay. I’m sorry. I’m not — I’m just not briefed on that, and I apologize.” As if nothing happened, he went on to discuss the conflict of interest associated with holding the G7 summit at Trump’s own resort and the impeachment controversy over the Ukraine scandal.

Lately, denuclearization talks with North Korea are not mentioned in the White House to the extent that the acting White House chief of staff was not briefed about the breakdown of the meeting with North Korea ten days later. As Trump’s focus of interests can be confirmed on Twitter and in press conferences, he is defending himself from an impeachment investigation by focusing on attacking the Democratic Party, trade talks with China and on stock price increases and economic accomplishments. These are the “bullets” that will help him on the presidential campaign next year. North Korea is not included here.

If Trump cannot afford to take care of the North Korea issue, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo should negotiate on North Korea’s nuclear program. But he cannot afford to do so either.

Many former and incumbent diplomats were summoned and testified on whether Trump really made a “deal” with Ukraine to investigate Democratic candidate Joe Biden in exchange for military aid.

Pompeo’s leadership in the department is shaken after it was exposed that diplomats testified they asked the department to help but were ignored.

Not much time is left until the end of the year, which North Korea proposed as the deadline for a “new calculation” to solve the nuclear conundrum. Pyongyang issued three statements to Washington in just 15 days. It seems nervous, but failed to get a response from Uncle Sam. It is likely to be the same in the future, considering Trump and Pompeo’s situations.

Trump’s impeachment and re-election are still in a fog. As the testimonies in the ongoing impeachment investigation are to be opened next week, impeachment will dominate all other issues in Washington. I am worried that the chance to talk about denuclearization will disappear, despite growing criticism that the talks have made little progress so far. It is the time for Kim Jong-un to make a move, when he still has a “friend” who says he had “fallen in love” with him.

JoongAng Ilbo, Nov. 8, Page 32