Trump wants solo, not multi-party talks with North Korea, says Bolton

North Korea's leader Kim Jong Un and U.S. President Donald Trump talk in the garden of the Metropole hotel during their second summit in Hanoi, Vietnam. (File photo: Reuters)

The US has little interest in joining other countries in a multi-nation effort to get North Korea to give up its nuclear weapons, President Donald Trump’s national security adviser said on Sunday.

The United States is not trying to exclude other nations from nuclear talks with Pyongyang, John Bolton told “Fox News Sunday,” but “I think it’s not what our preference is.”

“I think Kim Jong Un, at least up until now, has wanted the one-on-one contact with the United States, which is what he has gotten,” Bolton said, adding that Trump is open to possibility of a third summit with Kim.

Following their talks in Russia on Thursday, President Vladimir Putin suggested the revival of a multilateral approach to the denuclearization negotiations, which have failed in the past.

Putin said Kim is willing to give up nuclear weapons, but only if he gets ironclad security guarantees supported by a multinational agreement.

Ready for a third summit

Bolton said Trump was ready to meet with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un for a third summit to reach a deal for Pyongyang to give up its nuclear weapons.

“He still looks for the possibility of a third summit with Kim. He feels pretty strongly about it,” Bolton said, rejecting a return to six-party talks to persuade Pyongyang to shut its nuclear program.

“He’s said repeatedly he thinks he has a good relationship with Kim Jong Un and the six-party approach failed in the past.”

The second summit in Vietnam collapsed without an agreement after Trump and Kim failed to agree on the extent of economic sanctions relief for North Korea in exchange for giving up its nuclear program.

During the meeting, Trump demanded full denuclearization, including the transfer of Pyongyang’s nuclear weapons and bomb fuel to the United States.

The six-party format, which included Russia, China, Japan and South Korea, as well as the United States and North Korea, has been sidelined by unilateral US efforts to broker a deal.

“The six-party approach failed in the past. That doesn’t mean we don’t consult” with other countries, Bolton added. “Kim Jong Un has wanted the one on one contact with the United States, which is what he has gotten.”

“I think both Russia and China could tighten up their enforcement of the sanctions,” said Bolton, “I think they have been pretty good about it in recent months, but I think they could always tighten up.”

Bolton also said Trump also does not favor Kim’s desire for a step-by-step approach to denuclearization where North Korea would get some sanctions relief in exchange for taking steps toward denuclearization.

“I think if you look at the past policies, the answer to that is no,” Bolton said.

“The past policies that have tried a step-by-step approach have all failed. Kim or his father have gotten economic relief and then somehow have never gotten around to that commitment to denuclearize.”

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