Trump must avoid high expectations on N. Korea: ex-defense chief

2018/04/13 21:16:39 fontsize-small fontsize-default fontsize-big
William Perry

William Perry

Taipei, April 13 (CNA) U.S. President Donald Trump and his team should be fully informed on North Korean issues and avoid unrealistic expectations heading into negotiations on its nuclear weapons program, former U.S. Defense Secretary William Perry said in Taipei on Friday.

"The first key is making a serious effort to get fully informed on the issues of North Korea and know the negotiating leverage points they might have," Perry said when asked at a forum if a meeting between Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-in will lead to the denuclearization of North Korea.

"The second point is not to go in with overinflated expectations of how quickly things could happen," he said at the forum organized by the Commonwealth Publishing Group, in which Perry shared his views on pressing global challenges.

"My fear is that they will go and come away from the negotiations with the wrong conclusion...that diplomacy with North Korea is impossible, that the only way of speaking, the only language North Korea understands, is military language," he said.

That could lead the U.S. government back toward the idea of pre-emptive military strikes, which would be a "catastrophe," said Perry, who served as secretary of defense from 1994 to 1997 under President Bill Clinton and the administration's point man on North Korea.

The former defense chief said solving the North Korean nuclear crisis is going to be a long, arduous process, but he had hope.

"I am not and have not been a supporter of President Trump. But he brings one great advantage to this negotiation that his predecessors did not have," Perry contended, saying that if Trump concludes successful negotiations with the North Koreans, he will be backed by the U.S. Congress.

"This is what I call the Nixon Effect. None of Nixon's predecessors, had they gotten an agreement with China, could have gotten it approved. Nixon could. So I do have some hopes on North Korea," he said.

Perry argued that the likelihood of a nuclear war is greater now than it was during the Cold War, but he did not believe it would be caused by Russia launching a nuclear attack on the U.S., or North Korea striking Japan, South Korea or the U.S. unprovoked.

"That's not going to happen. What could happen, though, either with Russia or with North Korea, is we could blunder into a nuclear war because we don't understand fully the dangers, because we're not taking it seriously enough," he said.

Perry is visiting Taiwan to promote the Chinese version of his book "My Journey at the Nuclear Brink."

(By Christie Chen)
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