“The Room Where it Happened” could damage negotiations with Pyongyang

“The Room Where it Happened” could damage negotiations with Pyongyang

A top South Korean national security adviser on Monday said that John R. Bolton’s account of conversations between President Trump and the leaders of both North and South Korea in his upcoming book is “seriously distorted” and could damage progress made between the neighboring countries.

Washington Times reports in its article South Korea: John Bolton book could 'severely damage' negotiations with the North that in his forthcoming book, “The Room Where it Happened,” Mr. Bolton, the former White House national security adviser, alleges that South Korean President Moon Jae-in prioritized furthering his “unification” agenda and referred to his decisions with North Korea as “schizophrenic.” According to excerpts of the book, Mr. Bolton also claims that Mr. Moon insisted on accompanying Mr. Trump to his historic meeting with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un despite requests by the U.S. and the North for only its leaders to participate.

“Former adviser John Bolton describes negotiations between the leaders of Korea and the US, and North Korea and related situations from his point of view,” Chung Eui-yong, the head of South Korea’s National Security Office, said in a statement Monday.

“[The book] does not reflect accurate facts. Also, the truth is seriously distorted in large parts.”

While stopping short of naming specific inaccuracies in the book, Mr. Chung said he hopes the U.S. government will “take appropriate measures to prevent such a dangerous precedent.”

“Such inappropriate actions could seriously damage the efforts to strengthen the two countries’ security interests,” he continued. “Unilaterally publishing consultations made based on mutual trust violates the basic principles of diplomacy and could severely damage future negotiations.”

Mr. Trump and Mr. Kim have not met in person since a brief visit by the U.S. leader to the Korean demilitarized zone roughly a year ago, and few expect a major diplomatic breakthrough before the U.S. elections in November.

Denuclearization talks between Washington and Pyongyang broke down early last year during a meeting between Mr. Trump and Mr. Kim in Vietnam, after both sides seemingly had made progress on an agreement earlier.

Mr. Moon and Mr. Kim, meanwhile, participated in three rounds of summit talks in 2018. But the diplomacy has stalled since denuclearization talks between Washington and Pyongyang also stalled.

The possibility of renewed dialogue has appeared particularly dim since March, when North Korea launched nine short-range ballistic missiles. On April 14, the North launched a number of cruise missiles, on the eve of parliamentary elections in South Korea.

Last week, the North blew up a joint liaison office with South Korea to dramatize crumbling bilateral relations.

However, South Korean officials have hinted in recent weeks that an inter-Korean summit is still possible this year despite the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. Pyongyang has not reported a single confirmed case of COVID-19, despite sharing an 880-mile border with China, where the outbreak began.