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Trump deserves 'B' for N. Korea policy: U.S. think tank

All Headlines 03:42 April 18, 2019

WASHINGTON, April 17 (Yonhap) -- U.S. President Donald Trump deserves a "B" for his handling of the North Korean nuclear crisis even though his overall foreign policy grade is a "D+," according to a new report by a prominent U.S. think tank.

The report by the Council on Foreign Relations assessed the president's performance on a range of foreign policy issues from China, North Korea and Venezuela to climate change and trade.

The author, Robert D. Blackwill, Henry A. Kissinger senior fellow for U.S. foreign policy at the council, said Trump "is not given sufficient credit for his foreign policies," and attempted to separate policy from the president's personal qualities.

In the report, titled "Trump's Foreign Policies Are Better Than They Seem," Blackwill wrote that Trump's diplomatic engagement with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un has delayed the threat posed by the North's nuclear weapons and ballistic missile programs to U.S. national security interests.

This Reuters photo shows U.S. President Donald Trump (L) meeting with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un in Hanoi, Vietnam, on Feb. 27, 2019. (Yonhap)

"Trump's strategy at this writing has calmed the situation and reinvigorated the negotiating track by having U.S. and North Korean officials meet at the highest level for the first time in history," he said. "He has addressed, at least temporarily, what matters most to U.S. vital national interests -- the suspension of North Korea's nuclear and missile tests, whose systems directly threaten the U.S. mainland."

Blackwill credited the development to Trump's "dramatic if unorthodox approach," saying the president's negotiation has led the U.S. to a better position to reduce the North Korean threat than it was when he entered office two years ago.

"At a minimum," Blackwill said, "he has delayed the moment when a U.S. president would have to either stand by while North Korea progressively expanded its nuclear weapon and ballistic missile capabilities, or attack its nuclear and missile sites, which could lead to a nuclear war on the Korean Peninsula and beyond."

Trump and Kim held the first-ever U.S.-North Korea summit in June of last year and agreed to pursue complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula in exchange for security guarantees for Pyongyang.

In February, they held a second summit in Vietnam to try to flesh out the deal but stopped short of any agreement due to differences over the scope of North Korea's denuclearization and sanctions relief from the U.S.

Blackwill voiced doubt that the North will give up a nuclear arsenal it views as the "surest guarantee" for the survival of its regime.

"Washington should finally come to this conclusion and concentrate on an urgent effort to trade some North Korean restraint in its nuclear weapons and missile programs for some relief in sanctions," he said in the report.

"In addition, the president should not make any more unilateral concessions, as he did when he permanently canceled U.S.-South Korean major military exercises," he added.

hague@yna.co.kr
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