‘Coddling’ the ‘dictator next door’: Democrats savage Trump for Kim Jong-un ‘photo op’
A host of Democratic party hopefuls for the presidency have taken turns denouncing President Donald Trump’s meeting with North Korea’s Kim Jong-un as a “photo op,” while slamming Trump for cosying up to the “ruthless dictator.”
After scheduling an impromptu meeting via Twitter, Trump met Kim at the heavily fortified Korean Demilitarized Zone on Sunday. The leaders shook hands and Trump became the first sitting US president to cross the border into the North.
The historic moment was praised by some observers – including Pope Francis and South Korean President Moon Jae-in, but Trump’s Democratic rivals savaged him for so casually extending the olive branch to Kim.
“Our President shouldn’t be squandering American influence on photo ops and exchanging love letters with a ruthless dictator,” tweeted Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren. A spokesman for former vice president Joe Biden accused Trump of “coddling” Kim, a “dictator” who threatens US national security.
Senators Bernie Sanders (Vermont) and Kamala Harris (California) both called the meeting a “photo opportunity,” while former Housing Secretary Julian Castro and former Texas congressman Beto O’Rourke both accused Trump of raising Kim’s standing on the world stage, with no discernible progress towards peace in return.
“I have no problem with him sitting down with Kim Jong-un in North Korea or anyplace else,” Sanders told ABC’s This Week. “But…what’s going to happen tomorrow and the next day? If we’re going to bring peace to this world, we need a strong State Department. We need to move forward diplomatically not just do photo opportunities.”
New York Senator Amy Klobuchar told CNN’s State of the Union that achieving peace with North Korea will not be “as easy as just going and bringing a hot dish over the fence to the dictator next door.”
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Indeed, progress towards peace has been stalled for quite some time. While Trump and Kim ended last year’s bilateral summit in Singapore with a vague commitment by Kim to denuclearize in exchange for sanctions relief, no discernible progress has yet been made on that front.
The relationship further soured this February, when Trump walked out of a second summit in Hanoi, Vietnam, calling Kim’s demands for full sanctions relief untenable. Still, Trump has remained open to further negotiations with Pyongyang. After Kim’s military test-fired a bevy of short-range missiles last month, the president contradicted his own national security adviser John Bolton, who’d said the tests violated a UN resolution. Trump dismissed Bolton’s concern, saying the launch was “very standard.”
Before the meeting with Kim on Sunday, Trump was grilled by CNN’s Jim Acosta over his “cosiness” with Saudi Prince Mohammed bin Salman, Chinese President Xi Jinping and Russian President Vladimir Putin at the weekend’s G20 summit in Osaka, Japan.
“I get along with everybody, except you people actually,” Trump responded, gesturing to the press in the room.