President Joe Biden on Friday delivered a thinly veiled swipe at former President Donald Trump for giving Kim Jong Un “all that he’s looking for” in the previous administration’s dealings with North Korea.
Speaking at a White House press conference alongside South Korean President Moon Jae-in, Biden said any meeting with the reclusive North Korean leader would come with preconditions, including setting parameters for further discussions on North Korea’s nuclear arsenal and deescalation.
“What I would not do is … do what had been done in the recent past,” Biden said. “I would not give him all that he’s looking for, international recognition as legitimate and … give them what allowed him to move in a direction of appearing to be more … serious about what he wasn’t at all serious about.”
Biden said that for a meeting to occur, his administration would have to “know exactly” what would be discussed, drawing a contrast with Trump’s free-wheeling approach to international relations with both America’s allies and enemies. In March, Biden said North Korea was the top foreign policy issue facing the United States.
Trump met with Kim three times in person during his presidency, including a 2019 trip to North Korea when he became the first sitting U.S. president to make such a trip. Trump’s efforts with Kim, which included touting what he called a “beautiful letter” from the leader, ultimately failed in pushing the country to denuclearization.
Tensions between the two countries flared in 2017, with Trump threatening “fire and fury” in a tweet over North Korea’s nuclear program.
A spokesperson for Trump did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Trump has previously defended his actions with North Korea, claiming former President Barack Obama was “so close to starting a big war with North Korea.” Obama had told Trump that North Korea should be his top national security priority.