Tue, Oct 03, 2017 - Page 7 News List

N Korea envoy ‘wasting his time’: Trump

TEED OFF:Trump on Sunday dedicated the Presidents Cup golf trophy to people affected by the recent storms, adding that Puerto Rico is ‘under really great control’


US President Donald Trump on Sunday said that US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson was “wasting his time” trying to negotiate with North Korea over its nuclear and missile programs, raising speculation about whether Trump could be undermining efforts to maintain channels of communication or somehow bolstering the diplomat’s hand in possible future talks.

Tillerson on Saturday had said that the Trump administration was keeping open direct channels of communication with North Korea and probing the North’s willingness to talk.

He provided no elaboration about those channels or the substance of any discussions.

After Tillerson left China, his spokeswoman issued a statement saying that North Korean officials “have shown no indication that they are interested in or are ready for talks regarding denuclearization.”

Trump weighed in the next day with tweets that included his usual personal dig at Kim.

“I told Rex Tillerson, our wonderful Secretary of State, that he is wasting his time trying to negotiate with Little Rocket Man ... Save your energy Rex, we’ll do what has to be done!” he said on Twitter.

Later, a new tweet appeared: “Being nice to Rocket Man hasn’t worked in 25 years, why would it work now? Clinton failed, Bush failed, and Obama failed. I won’t fail.”

To senior Tillerson adviser R.C. Hammond, there was no ambiguity in Trump’s earlier posts.

“The President just sent a clear message to NK: show up at the diplomatic table before the invitation gets cold,” Hammond said on Twitter. “Message to Rex? Try message to Pyongyang: Step up to the diplomatic table.”

Some commentators seized on Trump’s tweets as evidence that he was either undermining Tillerson personally or his diplomacy, or both. Others said the tweets might represent a “good cop-bad cop” approach.

Still others saw Trump’s words as an attempt to give Tillerson diplomatic cover and potentially strengthen his hand in persuading North Korea to come to the table by declaring the effort a “waste of time” that the US could abandon at any time in favor of tightening sanctions even further or a military response.

Meanwhile, Trump spent Sunday afternoon attending a high-profile golf tournament, signaling that he will not be cowed by critics of his response to Hurricane Maria.

Earlier on Sunday, Trump had scoffed at “politically motivated ingrates” who had questioned his administration’s commitment to rebuilding Puerto Rico and said that there had been “tremendous progress.”

The remarks, on Twitter and from the manicured green, demonstrated Trump’s defiance in the face of charges that he has been distracted and his administration slow to respond to the US territory’s struggle to restore power and basic services in the two weeks after the storm.

Trump was on hand to present the Presidents Cup trophy to the US team, which he dedicated to the people of Puerto Rico, Texas and Florida still recovering from hurricane devastation.

“I want to just remember them and we’re going to dedicate this trophy to all of those people that went through so much, that we love,” he said, adding of Puerto Rico: “We have it under really great control.”

White House spokeswoman Lindsay Walters said the president had committed to attending the golf tournament “many months ago.”

“He is being continually updated on the situation in Puerto Rico and only came briefly to present the trophy to the American team who are serving as great representatives for our country,” she said.

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