Despite different takes by Secretary of Defense General Mattis and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, President Trump hasn’t appeared to favor “diplomacy” when it comes to North Korea. At least, that’s the natural assumption after the “fire and fury” and “locked and loaded” rhetoric being tossed around by the commander-in-chief. (UPDATE: And on Friday afternoon, Trump said Kim Jong-un “will regret it fast” if he messes with the U.S.) However, a new Associated Press report issues a surprising revelation regarding the current administration’s secret diplomatic efforts to solve the North Korea problem.
The report, which cites anonymous officials who would know, claims that these communications were thought to only involve the release of late detainee Otto Warmbier. However, the officials say that the talks transformed into a back channel geared toward easing rising tensions — which were to be expected after Kim Jong-un refused to stop testing missiles and nukes — and the efforts, so far, haven’t worked any magic:
People familiar with the contacts say the interactions have done nothing thus far to quell tensions over North Korea’s nuclear weapons and missile advances, which are now fueling fears of military confrontation. But they say the behind-the-scenes discussions could still be a foundation for more serious negotiation, including on North Korea’s nuclear weapons, should President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un put aside the bellicose rhetoric of recent days and endorse a dialogue.
Presumably, Trump has nothing to do with these discussions — referred to as the “New York channel” — that have mainly occurred between senior North Korean Diplomat Pak Song Il and U.S. Envoy for North Korea policy Joseph Yun. However, Tillerson has supposedly hinted at such a back channel that allows Pyongyang and D.C. to try and hash things out while their respective leaders publicly exchange insults. And it’s no wonder the talks have failed, since Trump seems intent upon tweeting his way into war with Kim Jong-un
In related news, Guam has issued a sobering fact sheet called “Preparing For An Imminent Missile Threat” to its citizens. Let’s hope nothing goes down on that subject this weekend, or for that matter, ever.
(Via Associated Press)