Americans should “be rooting” for President Donald Trump at next week’s U.S.-North Korea summit on denuclearization, former President Bill Clinton said Thursday.
“I think we should be rooting for [Trump] to succeed with the North Korea negotiations,” Clinton said in an interview with PBS NewsHour managing editor and anchor Judy Woodruff.
Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un are meeting June 12 in Singapore to discuss ending the regime’s nuclear weapons program — a goal that has eluded previous U.S. presidents, including Barack Obama, George W. Bush and Clinton.
The summit could be successful even if it doesn’t produce a full denuclearization deal, Clinton said, so long as North Korea makes other commitments such as allowing inspectors to monitor its nuclear weapons program.
Next week’s talks, at a resort on Sentosa Island, will be the first ever meeting between a North Korean leader and sitting U.S. president. Clinton called South Korean President Moon Jae-in a “genius” for helping broker the talks.
Trump has expressed optimism ahead of the summit, while cautioning that talks might not result in a final deal and could take longer than one day. CNN reported Thursday that Trump and Kim could meet for a second day if the first day of negotiations goes well.
“Anything we can do to reduce that threat [of North Korea’s nuclear weapons program] is a positive thing,” Clinton said.
Clinton spoke to the NewsHour alongside best-selling author James Patterson, with whom he co-wrote “The President is Missing,” a thriller about a fictional president’s response to a cyber attack. The book was released this month, putting Clinton back in the spotlight two years after his wife, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, was defeated by Trump in the 2016 presidential election.
Other highlights from the interview:
- Defending NAFTA: Clinton defended the North American Free Trade Agreement, his signature trade deal with Canada and Mexico. “On balance we’re a lot better off” because of NAFTA, Clinton said. But said the agreement — which he signed in 1993 — “needs to be upgraded.”
- Have Democrats moved in the direction of protectionism on trade? When asked by Woodruff, Clinton said yes. “But we pretty well know who is going to be hurt in a trade agreement — who will be helped, will be hurt. We should get our money on the front end from now on, but otherwise, I still believe in trade.”
- Is a cyber attack the most serious threat the U.S. faces? Clinton, whose new book is about a fictional cyber attack, said while a chemical, biological or nuclear attack could kill more people more quickly, “it is more likely that a serious cyber attack could do a massive amount of damage and be successful.” The comments come weeks after the White House eliminated its top cyber security adviser position. The annual report from the director of national intelligence identifies cyber security as the No. 1 threat to the U.S.