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Trump and Kim Jong Un should meet to defuse tense situation: Former Ambassador Bill Richardson

Key Points
  • It's unlikely that North Korea will give up its nuclear weapons, but that doesn't mean President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un shouldn't meet, says Bill Richardson.
  • He thinks the meeting between CIA Director Mike Pompeo and Kim is a "good development."
  • However, he warns that if a deal is struck there must be absolute verification that North Korea is denuclearizing.
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Trump should meet with Kim Jong-un: Richardson

It's unlikely that North Korea will give up its nuclear weapons, but that doesn't mean President Donald Trump and North Korea's leader, Kim Jong Un, shouldn't meet, said Bill Richardson, former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations.

"The situation couldn't be worse in terms of the tension. Kim Jong Un and the president should meet. They could defuse the situation," he said Wednesday on CNBC's "Power Lunch. "

The groundwork is apparently being laid for the widely anticipated summit, which is expected to happen in May or June. Trump confirmed on Wednesday that CIA Director Mike Pompeo met with Kim earlier this month.

A South Korean soldier walks past a television screen showing pictures of US President Donald Trump (L) and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un at a railway station in Seoul on March 9, 2018.
Jung Yeon-je | AFP | Getty Images

The trip provides the strongest sign yet of Trump's willingness to become the first serving U.S. president to meet a North Korean leader as he seeks to resolve a crisis over Pyongyang's development of nuclear missiles capable of hitting the United States.

Richardson, a Democrat who once was governor of New Mexico as well as Energy secretary in the Clinton administration, called the Pompeo-Kim meeting a "good development."

Not only does it mean that the summit will take place, it shows that Kim himself is "deeply" involved in the negotiations, he said.

However, he has a "substantial" worry over the issue of denuclearization. For the United States, it means North Korea should dismantle its weapons. But for the North Korea, it means to "possibly reduce" them, said Richardson, who has been to North Korea.

"If we make a deal with North Korea, there has to be absolute verification, inspections by U.S. inspectors and the International Atomic Energy Agency or it's going to be a senseless agreement," he said.

In a recent op-ed in The Washington Post, Richardson pointed out that the key deal points of any potential breakthrough between the two countries haven't changed in years.

"We want them to abandon nuclear weapons; they want us to pull our troops out of South Korea.
Neither side is likely to go that far. But Trump should meet with Kim, anyway. It might persuade both leaders that there is a valuable deal to be made, " he wrote, along with co-author Mickey Bergman, vice president of the Richardson Center for Global Engagement.

— Reuters contributed to this report.