Bolton Seeks ‘Real Indication’ From North Korea Before a Summit

(Bloomberg) -- The U.S. would need more evidence that Kim Jong Un is ready to give up North Korea’s nuclear weapons before President Donald Trump would meet him for a third summit, National Security Advisor John Bolton said.

Asked what the U.S. would need to see, Bolton said in an interview with Bloomberg News on Wednesday, “I think a real indication from North Korea that they’ve made the strategic decision to give up nuclear weapons.”

Bolton Seeks ‘Real Indication’ From North Korea Before a Summit

“The president is fully prepared to have a third summit if he can get a real deal,” Bolton said. Asked if there had been any progress toward denuclearization, he responded, “I wouldn’t say we could say that at this point.”

Bolton’s remarks, during a stop in Miami, struck a more pessimistic tone than that voiced by other members of the administration -- including Secretary of State Michael Pompeo -- about North Korea’s intentions and the prospects for a deal.

Before joining the Trump administration, Bolton was a vocal skeptic about the possibility of a deal, and North Korean state media have repeatedly singled him out for insults, saying at one point that the country can’t hide its “repugnance” toward him.

Pompeo told “CBS This Morning” this month that he was “confident there will be” a third summit. Trump has also sounded a more optimistic note, saying a third summit “would be good in that we fully understand where we stand.”

The U.S. and South Korea are seeking to restart the denuclearization talks, which stalled after a summit in Hanoi between Trump and Kim ended in failure in February. Trump has said smaller agreements could be reached but that he still wants a “big deal” to rid North Korea of its nuclear arms capabilities.

South Korean President Moon Jae-in visited the U.S. last week to discuss reviving the talks, but got little encouragement when he pushed to reopen some joint projects with North Korea as a confidence-building measure.

“We’ve tried to stay very close to the government of South Korea,” Bolton said in the interview. “President Moon himself is going to be trying to speak with Kim Jong Un, so we’re watching it very closely and we’re ready to talk about what the president calls the big deal.”

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