World / Politics

Ex-U.S. defense chief Leon Panetta calls Trump’s summit with Kim a failure

Bloomberg

Former U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said President Donald Trump’s summit with North Korea leader Kim Jong Un in June about the country’s nuclear threat was “doomed to failure” because of a lack of preparation beforehand.

“I’m very worried about the situation because frankly, I think we have a failed summit on our hands right now,” Panetta said on ABC’s “This Week” on Sunday.

Trump last month called off a planned trip to North Korea by Secretary of State Michael Pompeo after concluding there hasn’t been enough progress in talks aimed at denuclearizing the Korean Peninsula. In an Aug. 30 interview with Bloomberg News, the president said he can be patient with the North Korean leader, who’s yet to take appreciable steps to give up his country’s nuclear weapons after Trump declared the issue solved following the summit.

Panetta, who served as defense secretary and CIA director under Democratic President Barack Obama, said the summit “was all about show, it was about shaking hands, exchanging words.” But looking at North Korea’s nuclear weapon sites and the other needed underlying work before such a major meeting wasn’t done, and basic diplomatic work is still needed, he said.

While Trump inherited a difficult situation with North Korea, it’s not enough for the president to emphasize the good relationship he has with Kim, Panetta said.

“This isn’t about the dominance of personalities,” he said. “This is about the hard work of negotiating the solution to the differences between North Korea and the United States and South Korea. And there a lot of issues at stake here. But none of that work has been done.”