Accessibility links

Breaking News

Former Diplomat, N. Korea Negotiator Optimistic, Cautious on Trump-Kim Meeting

FILE - During an interview with the Associated Press, Former New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson speaks during an interview with the Associated Press, Jan. 24, 2018.

Former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations and a frequent negotiator in North Korea, Bill Richardson, spoke to VOA's Ira Mellman about President Donald Trump's meeting with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un in Singapore.

Richardson sounded a hopeful note, but cautioned that the North Korean leader “emerges at the outset as the winner because they’ve always wanted a summit with the president of the United States. They want to be on the same par as the United States, and this meeting fulfills a lot of his domestic objectives to show his people that he’s in the ring with the president and internationally makes him a global player.”

Richardson also sounded a positive note about what the meeting might achieve.

“I’m relatively optimistic [about] some kind of agreement that limits North Korea’s nuclear and missile activity,” he said, cautioning “they're not going to totally denuclearize.”

But, he said, “I’m also hopeful that there’ll be some good steps on normalizing the relationship, maybe liaison offices ... maybe some kind of effort to to deal with the MIAs, the remains of the American soldiers (killed in the Korean War). Hopefully something on helping the Japanese with the the abductees. And then finally, my hope is the president raises the human rights issue. Finding ways that if North Korea wants economic assistance from the U.S., they’re going to have to reform, they’re going to have to improve the human rights of their people. You know, some have called it a gulag. That has to end.”

Trump and Kim are both “unpredictable, volatile, nontraditional politicians, diplomats, (and) leaders,” Richardson said. “It could be that the chemistry of these two people, their character, the way they govern, might lead to a positive result.”

Ira Mellman contributed to this report.