|This file photo taken on Feb. 27, 2019, shows U.S. President Donald Trump shaking hands with North Korea's leader Kim Jong-un before a meeting at the Sofitel Legend Metropole hotel in Hanoi. AFP|
U.S. President Donald Trump's engagement with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un prevented a war with the communist state, Washington Post journalist Bob Woodward said Tuesday.
He said it was unprecedented diplomacy. The remark came hours after his new book on Trump and his administration, "Rage," hit the bookstands.
"It's an interesting original experiment, diplomacy because you know the normal playbook is that you send people to meet from both sides and you work out summit meeting between the two leaders," Woodward said in an online session hosted by his affiliated newspaper. The Watergate reporter currently serves as an associate editor of Washington Post.
"Trump felt very much that it worked. We didn't have war and you know as I point out (in the book), you have to give him credit," Woodward said. "At this point, there's been no war."
Such an assessment marks a clear praise considering that it comes from an author, who in his book declares Trump is the "wrong" person to lead his country.
"When his performance as president is taken in its entirety, I can only reach one conclusion: Trump is the wrong man for the job," Woodward writes in his latest book.
The book offers an extensive account of the relationship between Trump and Kim, mostly visible in 27 letters exchanged between the two that were obtained by Woodward.
The author notes the language the two leaders used was out of the "traditional diplomatic playbook," and resembled "declaration of personal fealty that might be uttered by the Knights of the Round Table, or perhaps suitors."
"We don't know where this is going to go and the relationship between Trump and Kim Jong-un, the North Korean leader is not good now. There's a lot of tension. So, we will watch that," Woodward told the virtual conference.
Still, he credited Trump and his relationship with Kim for having, at least in part, prevented a war, citing "the nature of how they talk, how they leaned on each other and how they maintained they were friends, would be friends forever, trusted each other."
Trump and Kim met three times in just over one year between June 2018 and June 2019.
Their talks, however, have stalled, along with U.S.-North Korea denuclearization talks, over how to sequence North Korea's denuclearization steps and U.S. concessions.
Earlier Tuesday, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said efforts were being made "even with North Koreans" to see where there may be a new opportunity, possibly to resume talks.
"I am still optimistic that it's gone quiet publicly, but there's still lots of work going on, work going on between ourselves, our allies in the region ― the Japanese and South Koreans ― and even efforts with the North Koreans to come to understand where there may be opportunity as time goes on," the top U.S. diplomat said. (Yonhap)