Trump offered Kim Jong-un ride on Air Force One after nuclear talks failed in 2019, NK leader declined: Source
'The president knew that Kim had arrived on a multi-day train ride through China into Hanoi and the president said: 'I can get you home in two hours if you want.' Kim declined,' an insider recalled
Former President Donald Trump reportedly invited North Korean leader Kim Jong-un for a ride on Air Force One after their summit in Vietnam in 2019, according to insiders.
The relationship between Trump and Kim will be explored in the third and final part of the BBC docu-series 'Trump Takes On the World', which will air on Wednesday, February 24. The episode focuses on the aftermath of the second historic meeting between the world leaders in Hanoi, Vietnam, in February 2019 to negotiate North Korea's nuclear program.
The meeting itself ended abruptly after Trump and Kim failed to come to an understanding about what the North Korean dictator would be willing to give up in exchange for sanctions relief. At the time Trump told reporters after the discussions fell apart, "Sometimes you just have to walk."
However, contrary to how he portrayed the apparent breakdown of his diplomatic relationship with Kim, Trump apparently left things on more cordial terms, the BBC docu-series revealed. "President Trump offered Kim a lift home on Air Force One," Matthew Pottinger, the top Asia expert on Trump's National Security Council, told the outlet.
"The president knew that Kim had arrived on a multi-day train ride through China into Hanoi and the president said: 'I can get you home in two hours if you want.' Kim declined." He added that the "gracious gesture" from Trump after the particularly tensed meeting between the leaders astounded him and other officials who witnessed it.
However, there was more shock to follow when it comes to Trump's demeanor around Kim. Former National Security Adviser John Bolton spoke of the "bromance" the leaders formed following their first meeting in Singapore in June 2018. "Trump thought he had a new best friend," Bolton said in the docu-series. He recalled one of the troubling instances when he agreed to Kim's request to cancel joint military exercises between the US and South Korea.
"Kim Jong-un, as he had many times in the past, complained about the big joint exercises between South Korea and American forces, which had been going on on the Korean peninsula for about 60 years plus," Bolton said. "Trump, out of nowhere, said: 'I'm going to cancel the war games [as he called them]. There's no need for them, they're expensive and it will make you happy.' I couldn't believe it. [Secretary of State Mike] Pompeo, [Chief of Staff John] Kelly and I were sitting there in the room with Trump and we weren't consulted. It came simply from Trump's own mind. It was an unforced error. It was a concession for which we got nothing in return."
The docu-series also reflects on how Trump made secret overtures to Kim to avoid going into a full-blown war with North Korea even as the two exchanged insults in the public eye.
Trump publicly announced that he would rain "fire and fury" on the rogue state and derided Kim as “little rocket man” as he claimed that the US might “have no choice but to totally destroy North Korea”. Kim on the other hand, snapped back at Trump saying he would "tame the mentally deranged US dotard with fire”.
Meanwhile, Jeffrey Feltman, an American UN official, revealed in the docu-series how Trump reacted when he was told of the invitation to North Korea by its foreign minister for Ri Yong-ho. The final go-ahead for the visit came from UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres after he visited the White House.
“Trump leaned over toward him and said ‘Jeff Feltman should go to Pyongyang, and Jeff Feltman should tell the North Koreans that I’m willing to sit down with Kim Jong-un’,” Feltman said.
“In more than 30 years in diplomacy, I’ve never felt a heavier responsibility as the risk of war, accidental or intentional, was so strong," Feltman said, as North Korea had boasted that it had tested a nuclear missile that could hit the United States just before Trump's visit.
However, when Feltman met the North Koreans, he said they were skeptical about Trump’s offer with Ri saying: “I don’t believe you.” He replied: “I’m not asking you to believe me. What I’m telling you was that I was entrusted with a message from President Trump. I am the carrier of that message.”
Three months later Trump and Kim shook hands in Singapore with the North Korean leader signaling he was prepared to give up his country’s nukes.