President Trump’s Negotiating Strategy Over US-ROK Free Trade Agreement Leaked to the Media

Here is a media leak if true that provides some insight into the US negotiating strategy in regards to the modifications the US wants in the US-ROK Free Trade Agreement:

In an Oval Office meeting earlier this month, President Trump gave his top trade negotiator, Robert Lighthizer, an Art of the Deal-style coaching session on how to negotiate with the South Koreans.

Trump’s impromptu coaching came in the middle of a pivotal conversation with top officials about whether or not to withdraw from the U.S.-Korean trade deal. Sources familiar with the conversation recounted the exchange for Axios, and the White House did not dispute this account.

A number of senior officials and cabinet secretaries were present for the conversation, including Defense Secretary Mattis, Agriculture Secretary Perdue, and Secretary of State Tillerson. At issue was whether the U.S. would withdraw from the Korean trade deal — an action Trump threatened but still hasn’t done.

“You’ve got 30 days, and if you don’t get concessions then I’m pulling out,” Trump told Lighthizer.

“Ok, well I’ll tell the Koreans they’ve got 30 days,” Lighthizer replied.

“No, no, no,” Trump interjected. “That’s not how you negotiate. You don’t tell them they’ve got 30 days. You tell them, ‘This guy’s so crazy he could pull out any minute.'”

“That’s what you tell them: Any minute,” Trump continued. “And by the way, I might. You guys all need to know I might. You don’t tell them 30 days. If they take 30 days they’ll stretch this out.”  [Axios]

First of all conversations like this should not be leaked out of the White House.  These leaks have to stop. Secondly as the article states the crazy approach only works if people think you will actually follow through with the threat.  That is why Kim Jong-un’s rhetoric is taken so seriously.

US Secretary of State Says Direct Talks Being Held With North Korea Over Nuclear Program

This is not surprising to me, the only thing surprising is that the US Secretary of State is admitting to the talks:

The United States is communicating with North Korea as it seeks to encourage the regime to abandon its build up of nuclear weapons, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said.

Mr Tillerson made his comments in Beijing after holding talks with Chinese leaders on Saturday amid rising concerns over Pyongyang’s military programme.

Washington is known to have back channels which it uses to help negotiate the release of US citizens who have been held captive in the North.

But Mr Tillerson’s disclosure suggests US officials are also using secret talks to convince Pyongyang to hold official negotiations aimed at easing tensions.  [The Telegraph]

You can read more at the link.

Representative Duncan Hunter Recommends A Preventative Strike on North Korea

Here is the latest opinion on what to do about North Korea:

U.S. Rep. Duncan Hunter, R-Calif., listens to testimony at a House Committee on Armed Services hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington on on , Sept. 7, 2017. Hunter said Thursday, Sept. 21, that the United States should preemptively strike North Korea.

Rep. Duncan Hunter said that the United States needs to launch a preemptive strike against North Korea in order to prevent the rogue nation from harming the U.S. first.

“You could assume, right now, that we have a nuclear missile aimed at the United States, and here in San Diego. Why would they not aim here, at Hawaii, Guam, our major naval bases?” Hunter, a California Republican, said during an appearance on San Diego’s KUSI television station Thursday.

“The question is, do you wait for one of those? Or, two? Do you pre-emptively strike them? And that’s what the president has to wrestle with. I would pre-emptively strike them. You could call it declaring war, call it whatever you want,” Hunter continued.  [Stars & Stripes]

You can read more at the link.

US Embassy in Seoul Ends Its Internship Program

The US embassy in South Korea cannot win.  First they get criticized for having unpaid internship positions and now they get criticized for getting rid of the internship program:

A college student, who requested to be identified as Park, was supposed to start an internship at the U.S. Embassy in Seoul this December.

After receiving a letter of acceptance July 21, she was preparing for the program — finding a residence in Seoul and buying work clothes — while dreaming of a future career after the internship.

On Sept. 6, however, she learned the program was suspended. She received an email from the embassy, which read “The U.S. Embassy will not be moving forward with our Winter Internship at this time.”

Explanations from the embassy frustrated her.

“The embassy staff simply repeated the answer that the decision was made due to personnel affairs in the organization,” Park told The Korea Times.

The cancellation of the internship program was more devastating for Park because the winter program was her last chance to work there before her graduation. “I even gave up a full-time paid job which gave me a final acceptance notification to do the internship, because the latter was only allowed for university students,” Park said.  [Korea Times]

You can read more at the link, but this is what happens when interns complain about not getting paid.

Some People Concerned Pentagon Official Visit to South Korea May Be Sign of Impending Evacuation of US Citizens

If the US government orders the evacuation of US citizens from South Korea then yes it is probably time to be concerned about an impending strike on North Korea, however people should not read more into this visit which is routine:

Elisabeth Cordray, a U.S. deputy assistant secretary of defense, visited South Korea after North Korea’s latest nuclear test to check on preparations for evacuating U.S. citizens in the event of war, it emerged Tuesday.

The visit has sparked speculation of an impending U.S. military attack against North Korea, but the U.S. Forces Korea claimed Cordray’s visit was a “routine inspection.”

Cordray visited the 19th Expeditionary Sustainment Command, the logistic support arm of the Eighth Army, in Daegu on Sep. 13 and met its commander, John Sullivan, according to her Facebook page.

The command said Tuesday that Cordray “familiarized” herself with the process of evacuating U.S. citizens from South Korea in case of an emergency. She also discussed the readiness level of U.S. troops and was briefed on progress in relocating the main USFK military garrison in Yongsan to Pyeongtaek.  [Chosun Ilbo via reader tip]

You can read more at the link, but it seems to me that Ms. Cordray would be negligent in her duties if she did not get better familiarized with the evacuation process in South Korea if needed.

President Trump Threatens to “Totally Destroy North Korea” at UN Address

It is going to be interesting to see how the Kim regime responds to President Trump’s UN speech because he has made it pretty clear what is coming Pyongyang’s way if they don’t stop their provocations:

President Trump made his first address to the United Nations General Assembly on Tuesday morning, telling the gathering of world leaders that if Pyongyang continues its nuclear provocations, the United States “will have no choice but to totally destroy North Korea.”  [Yahoo News]

You can read more at the link as well as watch President Trump’s speech where he also said “Rocket Man was on a suicide mission” in reference to Kim Jong-un.

After Latest North Korean Missile Launch Congress Wants Tougher Action

It appears that some in Congress want to force China to make a tough decision of either supporting the Kim regime or remain part of the international banking system:

Frustrated U.S. lawmakers called on Tuesday for a high-powered response to North Korea’s nuclear tests, saying Washington should act alone if necessary to stiffen sanctions on companies from China, Russia and any country doing business with Pyongyang.

“I believe the response from the United States and our allies should be supercharged,” said Representative Ed Royce, chairman of the House of Representatives Foreign Affairs Committee.

“We need to use every ounce of leverage … to put maximum pressure on this rogue regime,” the Republican congressman told a hearing on North Korea. “Time is running out.” (……)

“We can designate Chinese banks and companies unilaterally, giving them a choice between doing business with North Korea or the United States,” said Royce, who had breakfast on Tuesday with Secretary of State Rex Tillerson.

“We should go after banks and companies in other countries that do business with North Korea the same way,” he said.  [Reuters]

You can read more at the link.

North Korea Call US Ambassador to the UN a “Political Prostitute”

The North Korean regime has their sexist caricature of Nikki Haley that they love to repeat to try and discredit her:

Nikki Haley

As for the North Koreans, their official news agency on Friday said the country’s “nuclear weaponization … has reached its final phase.”

The KCNA report sharply criticized U.S. Ambassador Nikki Haley for playing “the flagship role” in the Trump administration’s “hideous sanctions and pressure racket against the DPRK.”

The agency called Haley “a political prostitute” and dismissed as “rubbish” her comments at an emergency Security Council meeting Monday following the latest nuclear test that the DPRK is “begging for a war.” The agency accused the U.S. of being the “chieftain of aggression and war and wrecker of peace.”

The U.S. Mission to the United Nations said it had no comment on the KCNA report, which concluded by saying: “The U.S. administration will have to pay a dear price for her tongue-lashing.”  [Associated Press]