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John Bolton says possibility of U.S. preemptive strike on N. Korea 'zero': S. Korean lawmaker

All Headlines 05:14 November 17, 2016

By Chang Jae-soon

WASHINGTON, Nov. 16 (Yonhap) -- John Bolton, considered a top candidate for secretary of state under the incoming administration of Donald Trump, said Wednesday the U.S. won't launch a preemptive strike against North Korea, according to a South Korean lawmaker.

Bolton, who served as a top nonproliferation official under George W. Bush and is known for hawkish views on North Korea and other security threats, made the remark when he met with a group of South Korean lawmakers, according to Rep. Na Kyung-won of the ruling Saenuri Party.

Bolton even said there is "zero" chance of a U.S. preemptive attack on the North, according to Na.

"He said he's well aware of how much price South Korea should pay in that case," the lawmaker said. "He said the North Korean nuclear issue is being considered a top issue of concern due to the North's nuclear tests and missile launches."

Bolton also stressed the need for thorough preparedness against attacks from the North, she said.

"He said he understands the seriousness of the North Korean nuclear issue, and there should be more discussions with China," Na said.

Bolton also reacted negatively to holding talks with the North, she said.

"He said he has no intention of sitting there (at the negotiating table). He said he's not interested in holding talks," Na said.

The meeting offered a glimpse into Bolton's views of the North Korea problem at a time when he is considered a top candidate for Trump's first secretary of state, along with former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani, Sen. Bob Corker and former House Speaker Newt Gingrich.

The five-member bipartisan delegation, led by Rep. Chung Dong-young of the opposition People's Party, has been on a visit to the U.S. since Monday on a mission to connect with the Trump administration. Their trip included a series of meetings with lawmakers and experts with ties to Trump.

The delegation also included Reps. Na, Choung Byoung-gug of the Saenuri Party, Kim Boo-Kyum of the main opposition Minjoo Party and Cho Bae-sook of the People's Party.

On Monday, the team met in New York with Richard Haas, president of the Council on Foreign Relations think tank, who is considered a top foreign policy adviser to Trump. On Tuesday, they met in Washington with Ed Feulner, former president of the Heritage Foundation; Sen. Cory Gardner (R-CO); former White House Chief of Staff Joshua Bolton; and Bill Burns, president of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.

On Wednesday, they also met with Rep. Ed Royce (R-CA), chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee.

Royce told reporters at the start of the meeting that the U.S. and South Korea are equal partners and the alliance between the two countries should be further strengthened.

Rep. Ed Royce (R-CA), chairman of the U.S. House Foreign Affairs Committee, holds a meeting with a delegation of South Korean lawmakers at his office in Washington on Nov. 16. (Yonhap)

jschang@yna.co.kr
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