Continetti: Trump ‘Found the Limits of Personal Diplomacy’ in Second North Korea Summit

• March 1, 2019 7:59 pm


Washington Free Beacon editor in chief Matthew Continetti said Friday that President Donald Trump discovered the limits of personal diplomacy during his summit meeting with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un in Vietnam earlier this week.

Continetti's comments came during an appearance on Fox News's "Special Report," where he discussed Trump's remarks about Otto Warmbier, an American student who died in 2017 after being imprisoned by the North Korean regime. Trump said he believed Kim when the dictator denied involvement in Warmbier's death.

"For him [Trump] it seems that he's very relational," host Shannon Bream said. "These relationships with the foreign leaders are the key for him, he thinks, to eventually being able to get important concessions for the U.S., and it seems his strategy is he's not going to insult them directly because that's how he believes he gets the deal done."

"The strategy is personal diplomacy, but I think he kind of found the limits of personal diplomacy in this second summit, where he really tried the charm approach, tried to talk up his love of Kim Jong Un. And it still didn't get him the deal," Continetti responded. "And so as he conducts this attempt to promote peace in the Korean peninsula—I think we have moved beyond denuclearization; we just want a ratcheting down of tensions—he has to keep in mind who Kim is and who the North Korean regime are, and they are the world's most chronic and terrible violators of human rights."

Trump's comments on Warmbier drew criticism from the late student's parents. Trump attempted to clarify his remarks in two tweets on Friday, claiming he was "misinterpreted."

"I never like being misinterpreted, but especially when it comes to Otto Warmbier and his great family," Trump tweeted. "Remember, I got Otto out along with three others. The previous Administration did nothing, and he was taken on their watch. Of course I hold North Korea responsible for Otto's mistreatment and death. Most important, Otto Warmbier will not have died in vain. Otto and his family have become a tremendous symbol of strong passion and strength, which will last for many years into the future. I love Otto and think of him often!"

Talks between the United States and North Korea in Hanoi, Vietnam, collapsed on Thursday without any agreement on nuclear disarmament or easing tensions on the Korean peninsula. Trump said North Korea wanted all American sanctions lifted in return for dismantling its most important nuclear facility. Kim, however, refused to commit to dismantling the rest of his nuclear program. North Korea's foreign minister claimed his country only asked for a partial lifting of sanctions in return for dismantling the key facility.