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Flattery drove Trump to meet Kim three times: Woodward

All News 04:39 September 10, 2020

By Byun Duk-kun

WASHINGTON, Sept. 9 (Yonhap) -- It may have been flattery that encouraged U.S. President Donald Trump to continue his meetings and exchanges with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un despite opposition from his own adviser and possibly at the expense of giving the dictator global recognition, a news report suggested Wednesday.

Quoting excerpts from a new book by its associate editor, Bob Woodward, the Washington Post reported, "Trump was taken with Kim's flattery" and that he has "pridefully" told Woodward that Kim had addressed him as "excellency."

The new book, "Rage," includes excerpts from 25 letters exchanged between Kim and Trump, in one of which Kim said he wanted "another historic meeting between myself and Your Excellency reminiscent of a scene from a fantasy film," the report said.

The book is set to be released Tuesday.

This photo, taken June 30, 2019, shows North Korean leader Kim Jong-un (L) and U.S. President Donald Trump (C) walking with South Korean President Moon Jae-in toward the northern side of the truce village of Panmunjom in the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ), after Kim and Trump met on the South Korean side of the DMZ, which separates the two Koreas. (Yonhap)

Trump had frequently referred to Kim's letters as "beautiful" notes, over which he said they fell in love.

In a recent turn that followed an accusation from his former national security adviser, John Bolton, that he had viewed those letters just as such, Trump claimed he was only being "sarcastic."

In his new book, Woodward quotes Trump as saying that he found Kim to be "far beyond smart" and that Kim told him everything, including a graphic account of having his uncle killed.

Jang Song-thaek, Kim's uncle and brother-in-law of his late father, Kim Jong-il, is believed to have been executed in 2013, a year after the North Korean leader assumed power.

Woodward also describes how U.S. officials, including top intelligence chiefs, had warned that North Korea is unlikely to ever give up its nuclear weapons and that Trump's approach may be ineffective.

Trump, however, told Woodward that he is determined to stay the course, the author writes in his book, according to the Washington Post report.

Trump and Kim have held three meetings, including two bilateral summits -- in June 2018 and February 2019.

His meetings with Kim, as well as other dictators, have brought criticism for Trump, especially from his Democratic rival, Joe Biden, for "cozying up to dictators."

Trump has waved off criticism over his meetings with Kim, Woodward writes, insisting that he has not given up anything.

Woodward, quoting foreign experts, points out that Trump may have given much to Kim "by postponing and then scaling back the U.S. joint military exercises with South Korea that had long angered North Korea, as well as by granting Kim the international stature and legitimacy the North Korean regime has long craved."

Trump has also explained to Woodward how close the U.S. had come to war with North Korea in 2017.

That year is when the communist state last staged its nuclear test.

The U.S. president frequently argues that his good relationship with Kim is what prevented an imminent war with the communist state.

bdk@yna.co.kr
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