A few months ago, Donald Trump offered public praise for Kim Jong Un and expressed a willingness to engage in direct talks with the North Korean dictator. “If it would be appropriate for me to meet with him, I would absolutely, I would be honored to do it,” Trump said in May.
But White House support for diplomacy towards North Korea waned in the months that followed, and U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley declared this past weekend that she’s “done” talking about North Korea.
Three days later, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, who’s routinely not on the same page as Haley, seemed to take a very different position, saying that “at some point” U.S. officials “would like to sit and have a dialogue with them.”
Yesterday, the administration apparently switched gears again.
U.S. Vice President Mike Pence rejected the notion of holding direct talks with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un aimed at curbing the nation’s nuclear weapons program, saying the right strategy doesn’t involve “engaging North Korea directly.”
Instead, Mr. Pence said he favored economic and diplomatic pressure while pushing China to use its clout with Pyongyang.
So to recap, the Trump administration is for, and against, and for, and against direct diplomatic discussions with North Korea.
The president, meanwhile, insists he has this all figured out.
Responding to a reporter’s question at a White House event this week, Trump said, “We’ll handle North Korea. We’re going to be able to handle them. It will be handled. We handle everything.”
I feel better already.