Asia Pacific / Politics

South Korea blasts John Bolton's Trump-Kim narrative as 'distorted'

AFP-JIJI

South Korea’s presidential office on Monday accused former U.S. national security adviser John Bolton of distorting facts and jeopardizing future negotiations with his scathing account of President Donald Trump’s North Korea summit strategy.

Bolton’s forthcoming memoir “The Room Where it Happened” takes both Trump and South Korean President Moon Jae-in to task for their handling of a series of historic meetings with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un beginning in 2018.

Chung Eui-yong, Moon’s security adviser — who first told Trump that Kim wanted to meet and appears repeatedly in the book — said it “does not convey accurate facts and a large chunk of it distorts facts a great deal.”

He did not cite specifics.

But he said that disclosing details about the bilateral nuclear negotiations “violates basic diplomatic principles and would seriously undermine interest in future talks” by all sides.

The presidential Blue House issued a separate statement, saying: “It is inappropriate to distort facts with prejudice and bias.”

In the book, Bolton says Trump was not prepared for his first summit with Kim in Singapore, but expected it to be “great theater.”

He also criticizes Moon, saying the “whole diplomatic fandango was South Korea’s creation, relating more to its ‘unification’ agenda than serious strategy on Kim’s part or ours.”

“The South’s understanding of our terms to denuclearize North Korea bore no relationship to fundamental U.S. national interests,” Bolton writes.

He describes Moon’s view on one issue as “nonsense” and “schizophrenic.”

Asked Monday about Bolton’s description of Moon as “schizophrenic”, a South Korean presidential official responded: “It is an issue Bolton has to judge for himself. I think he might be one.”

Bolton said Sunday that he thinks Kim “gets a huge laugh” over Trump’s perception of their relationship.

Bolton spoke to ABC News for his first interview ahead of the Tuesday release of his tell-all book, which contains many damning allegations against Trump.

When journalist Martha Raddatz asked if Trump “really believes Kim Jong Un loves him,” Bolton replied he could see no other explanation.

“I think Kim Jong Un gets a huge laugh out of this,” Bolton said. “These letters that the president has shown to the press … are written by some functionary in the North Korean Workers Party agitprop office.

“And yet, the president has looked at them as evidence of this deep friendship,” he said, adding that friendship does not amount to international diplomacy.

Bolton also said he does not consider Trump to be fit for office and hopes he is a one-term president.

“I hope (history) will remember him as a one-term president who didn’t plunge the country irretrievably into a downward spiral we can’t recall from. We can get over one term,” he said.

Bolton added that he will vote for neither Trump nor Democrat Joe Biden in the November presidential elections. Instead, he will “figure out a conservative Republican to write in” on the ballot.

Trump’s administration had sought to halt publication of Bolton’s book, but a U.S. judge refused Saturday to block its release, saying it was too late for a restraining order.

“The Room Where it Happened” is Bolton’s portrait of 17 months up close with Trump until he was fired last September.

In his interview, Bolton said he had resigned, noting that the “last straw” for him was when Trump invited the Taliban to Camp David during Afghan peace negotiations.

Bolton’s book, which Trump describes as “fiction,” describes the president “pleading” with Chinese President Xi Jinping during trade negotiations to boost the U.S. president’s chances of re-election.

Moreover, Bolton backs up the allegations at the center of Trump’s impeachment last year that he pressured Ukraine to dig up dirt to weaken Biden’s presidential bid.

Both Republican and Democratic lawmakers have criticized Bolton for publishing his book, saying he should have instead come forward during the impeachment process.

The House Intelligence Committee Chairman, Democrat Adam Schiff, told NBC’s “Meet the Press” earlier Sunday that Bolton “indicts himself, for cowardice and for greed” by making his accusations in a book instead of testifying in front of the impeachment hearings.

Republican Sen. Tim Scott told ABC’s “This Week” on Sunday that he also wished Bolton “would have come into the House under oath and testified.”

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