North Korea nuclear crisis

Ex-US Democratic presidential hopeful applauds Trump’s North Korea strategy

Bill Richardson praises the Republican president’s decision to drop a military strike threat and work with China to compel Pyongyang to halt missile testing

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 13 June, 2017, 5:19am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 13 June, 2017, 6:24am

Former US Democratic presidential candidate and senior diplomat Bill Richardson lauded US President Donald Trump’s approach to North Korea.

Richardson also appealed to the Republican president to come to an agreement that will keep a US missile defence system deployed in South Korea and leave Washington’s trade agreement with Seoul intact.

In a keynote address delivered in New York, Richardson said Trump and his aides were correct to stop threatening North Korea with pre-emptive military strikes and work closely with China as part of efforts to pressure Pyongyang to halt nuclear and ballistic missile testing.

“The [Trump] administration is correct to find ways to talk to the Chinese,” Richardson said before a panel discussion on South Korea arranged by the New York-based Emerging Markets Traders Association.

After weeks of negotiations with China, South Korea, Japan and other UN Security Council members, the UN body voted unanimously on June 2 to expand sanctions against North Korea in retaliation for its recent ballistic missile tests by blacklisting additional companies and individuals.

China exerting ‘productive’ pressure on North Korea over missile launches, says US official

The resolution added 14 North Korean government officials to the list of those already prohibited from travelling to UN member states as per a resolution passed by the Security Council in 2006. The move also prohibited four more companies, including Koryo Bank and Kangbong Trading Corp, from conducting transactions with UN member-state entities.

Richardson has more experience than most US government officials when it comes to negotiating with North Korea. Following his service as a US congressman and New Mexico governor, Richardson served as former US President Bill Clinton’s UN Ambassador and energy secretary in the late 1990s. He visited North Korea on diplomatic missions eight times as a US government official and a private citizen.

“What is very important is that we stay very close to our main ally in the region, South Korea, on the THAAD missile, and we should stay close to them on the free trade agreement,” Richardson added during his address in New York, using the acronym for the Terminal High-Altitude Area Defence missile system. The US military has deployed THAAD in South Korea to protect against possible North Korean missile attacks.

Trump said in an interview with Reuters in April that he will either renegotiate or terminate the US’s free trade deal with South Korea and that Seoul should pay for the THAAD system, which he priced at US$1 billion.

UN punishes North Korea in first China-US sanctions deal under Trump

Richardson’s most recent North Korean trip was in 2013, when he led a private, humanitarian mission to Pyongyang with Alphabet Inc’s executive chairman, Eric Schmidt, to urge North Korea to adopt a moratorium on ballistic missiles and nuclear tests and to help secure the release of a detained US citizen, Kenneth Bae.

During that trip, Schmidt tried to appeal to the North Korean government to embrace internet freedom.

The two Americans never managed to meet Kim Jong-un and failed to persuade officials in Pyongyang. Bae was detained for more than a year after Richardson’s visit.