U.S. senators of both parties endorsed President Donald Trump’s decision to cut short a summit with North Korean Leader Kim Jong Un if no nuclear accord acceptable to the United States was on the table.
“No deal is better than a bad deal,” West Virginia Democrat Joe Manchin told reporters in Washington Thursday.
“Part of the art of the deal is knowing when to walk away,” Republican Mike Rounds of South Dakota said on Capitol Hill. “I’m glad he [Trump] exercised it that way and had the wherewithal to say, ‘Even though I want a deal, this is not the right time.’”
“If the president and the team there did not think we were likely to get something good, then it’s good that we didn’t give up anything,” Virginia Democrat Tim Kaine said.
“I certainly don’t want any president to sign off on a bad deal, but usually enough homework is done in advance to anticipate, if not predict, the outcome — in this case, apparently, that wasn’t done,” the Senate’s No. 2 Democrat, Dick Durbin of Illinois, told VOA.
“Diplomacy by narcissism doesn’t work,” Hawaii Democrat Mazie Hirono said. “I don’t think the president is capable of forcing any kind of a deal on Kim Jong Un. I think Kim is very clear on what he wants — he wants our troops out of the DMZ [Korean Demilitarized Zone].”
By contrast, Republicans praised Trump’s overall effort.
“The president should be commended for his personal commitment to persuading Kim Jong Un to pursue a different path,” Senator Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky said. “It was smart to bring Kim Jong Un to Singapore [for the first summit last year] and to Vietnam to expose the North Korean delegation to the kind of economic prosperity that could be possible if he were to choose a new path.”
Analysts also weighed in.
“Trump correctly emphasized principles and long-time allies over a premature peace declaration and his new-found relationship with Kim Jong Un,” Korean affairs researcher Bruce Klingner of the Washington-based Heritage Foundation said. “While details remain unclear, it appeared North Korea offered only its Yongbyon nuclear facility in return for removal of all sanctions. While tempting, a bad deal is indeed worse than no deal.”
“It could have been worse,” Atlantic Council Senior Fellow Robert Manning said. “And it also illustrates the perils of top-down diplomacy.”
Manning said the summit would have yielded better results if U.S. and North Korean negotiators had hammered out the framework of an agreement ahead of the encounter.