Donald Trump started his presidency an enemy of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, then the two became fairly friendly as Trump tried to negotiate a nuclear weapons deal with the dictator. And now that Trump is no longer in office, we know that he once offered a pretty exclusive ride to Jong-un as a sign of friendship.
According to a report, Trump once offered up Air Force One to Jong-un in order to give him a ride back to North Korea while they were meeting at a summit in Vietnam. A BBC report detailed the odd offer from Trump, which came after talks broke down: Trump abruptly walked away from negotiating with Jong-un after conceding things that shocked National Security Advisors, who detailed the meetings to the BBC.
Despite the summit ending in failure for Trump, he apparently abruptly offered Jong-un a ride back to North Korea on Air Force One rather than take the train, as he had to get there.
Trump’s second summit with Kim Jong-un, in Hanoi, Vietnam, did not go to plan. As negotiations over North Korea’s nuclear programme broke down, Trump left abruptly, saying to the press: “Sometimes you just have to walk.”
But before he departed, the then US president did make one astonishing offer to Kim.
Matthew Pottinger, the top Asia expert on Trump’s National Security Council told us: “President Trump offered Kim a lift home on Air Force One. The president knew that Kim had arrived on a multi-day train ride through China into Hanoi and the president said: ‘I can get you home in two hours if you want.’ Kim declined.”
Offering a world leader that Trump called “rocket man” and threatened on Twitter just months earlier a ride back is weird enough, but it’s just a glimpse of the bizarre negotiating that Trump apparently did in the meetings with the Korean dictator. The report detailed John Bolton’s bewilderment at Trump conceding things to Jong-un while getting nothing in return, let alone offering one of the most famous planes in the world up to someone he failed to negotiate with in any meaningful way. The swift turnaround of the relationship between Trump and Jong-un will likely go down as one of the weirdest things about Trump’s presidency on the international level. But for Bolton, it was apparently a pretty simple thing to rationalize.
“Trump thought he had a new best friend,” Bolton told the BBC.