Democratic presidential candidates dismissed President Donald Trump’s latest meeting with North Korea dictator Kim Jon Un as a photo opportunity that conferred credibility to the rogue regime without securing any measurable commitments in return.
Trump became the first U.S. president to set foot in North Korea on Sunday, briefly crossing into the country where he shook hands and met with Kim, who he called “my friend.” The made-for-TV moment led to an agreement to restart talks on nuclear disarmament on the Korean peninsula, which broke down after Trump’s summits with Kim in Singapore last June and in Vietnam in February failed to yield substantial results.
“I have no problem with him sitting down with Kim Jong-un in North Korea or any place else. But I don’t want it simply to be a photo opportunity,” Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) said Sunday on ABC’s “This Week.” “What’s going to happen tomorrow and the next day?”
North Korea launched two suspected “short-range missiles” in May that landed in the Sea of Japan. Trump, as he has previously, on Sunday dismissed the importance of the launches after his meeting with Kim. He told reporters he “didn’t consider those missile tests.”
The comment contradicts his top defense and national security officials, who have maintained that the launches violated United Nations resolutions.
“After they had the first summit, the Singapore summit, he told the American people that North Korea was no longer a threat,” former HUD Secretary Julian Castro said Sunday on ABC’s “Week.” “Then after that, (North Korea) continued to test their nuclear weapons and they have not even abided by one of the commitments that they made originally, which was to give an inventory of their nuclear stockpile.”
The Texas Democrat further accused Trump of “raising the profile” and “growing the strength of a dictator.”
“He keeps having these summits and meetings that really don’t produce anything,” Klobuchar said on CNN’s “State of the Union.” “You know, you just can’t look at this as going over and talking to your dictator next door and bringing them a hot dish over the fence.”
“You need to have a plan to denuclearize that peninsula or at least reduce those weapons immediately, and I just don’t see that happening,” she added.
Former Vice President Joe Biden didn’t personally comment on the Trump-Kim meeting, which Trump set in motion via Twitter on Saturday as he prepared to leave a G-20 summit in Japan. A Biden spokesman, though, issued a statement blasting Trump for his “coddling of dictators,” and accused the president of making “numerous concessions for negligible gain.′
“His conduct reinforces that we urgently need a president who can restore our standing in the world, heal relationships with key allies Trump has alienated, and deliver real change for the American people,” Biden spokesman Andrew Bates said in a statement.
Rep. Tim Ryan of Ohio, one of the longer shots in the crowded Democratic presidential field, may have had the sharpest words for Trump’s continuing bromance with Kim, at least among the party’s White House candidates.
Ryan said he was “stunned” by the brief get-together, and compared Trump to former British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain, whose diplomatic capitulations to German Nazi leader Adolf Hitler helped set the stage for World War II.
“This is historic — him going to North Korea is like Chamberlain going to talk to Hitler,” Ryan said during an interview on Fox News’ “Sunday Morning Futures.”
“I have no idea why he is shaking hands with a dictator who just in May was sending missiles into the Sea of Japan,” Ryan told host Maria Bartiromo. “You don’t reward that kind of behavior with a visit to your country from the president of the United States.”