Trump Bucks Usual Aggression, Opens The Door To Negotiations With North Korea
“We will offer a path to a much better future,” Trump said before South Korea’s National Assembly.
President Donald Trump took a far more measured tone during his address to South Korea’s National Assembly on Wednesday, touting the option of diplomacy with North Korea while delivering a strong message to the country’s leader that it must end its nuclear weapons program.
Trump, speaking in Seoul as part of his 12-day tour of Asia, delivered a direct and at times heavy-handed message to Kim Jong Un, telling the North Korean leader: “Do not underestimate us. Do not try us.”
However the president echoed calls from a day earlier when, speaking at a news conference with South Korean President Moon Jae-in, he urged Pyongyang to “come to the table and make a deal.”
“I also come here to deliver a message directly to the leader: The weapons you are acquiring are not making you safer. They are putting your regime in grave danger,” Trump told the National Assembly. “Every step you take down this dark path increases the peril you face. North Korea is not the paradise your grandfather envisioned. It is a hell that no person deserves.
“We will offer a path to a much better future. It begins with an end to the aggression of your regime, a stop to your development of ballistic missiles and complete verifiable and total denuclearization.”
North Korea has so far refused offers of diplomacy and said it would not put its nuclear weapons ― or its ballistic missiles capable of reaching the United States ― on the bargaining table.
The speech stands in contrast to Trump’s past remarks, in which the president has threatened or demeaned Kim on Twitter. In September, he vowed to “totally destroy North Korea” during his first address to the United Nations and called Kim a “rocket man … on a suicide mission for himself and for his regime.”
Other Trump administration officials, including Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and Defense Secretary Jim Mattis, have said diplomacy would remain on the table “until the first bomb drops.”
Trump’s speech Wednesday, which included a sweeping history of the conflict on the Korean peninsula, included some overt hits at the North, including his assertion that the region “is a country ruled by a cult.” He pointed to human rights abuses by Pyongyang against its own people and acts of aggression including the recent death of American student Otto Warmbier, who Trump said was “tortured” to death.