Hours before President Donald Trump on Friday rescheduled his high-stakes summit with North Korea, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell counseled him on the matter: “If you’re a great deal maker, be interested in the details.”
The Kentucky Republican, speaking at the Greater Louisville Inc. Congressional Summit in his home state, suggested that Trump consider the Iran nuclear deal that he exited as an example of the type of agreement to avoid with Pyongyang. As the June 12 summit approaches, North Korea is likely to pursue “every effort they can to get sanctions and other relief, and give up as little as possible,” McConnell said. “It’s going to be quite a challenge.”
In order to extract a victory from such a difficult negotiation with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, McConnell added, “You have to not want the deal too much. If you fall in love with the deal, and it’s too important for you to get it, and the details become less significant, you could get snookered.”
McConnell’s remarks amount to a friendly yet stark warning to the White House about the perils of pushing too hard for a groundbreaking achievement at next month’s summit, which Trump began hinting he might revive within hours after scrapping it last week.
While Democrats have tempered their support for Trump’s North Korea diplomacy with vocal reminders of the risks of a bad deal, Republicans had welcomed the president’s decision to call off the summit – and now face their own battle to manage expectations for a chief executive who often touts his skills at cutting deals.
“We’re all hopeful,” McConnell said on Friday. “I mean, what would be wrong with having a denuclearized Korean Peninsula? But I think we’re a long way from that.”
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