WASHINGTON — Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina said he’s glad John Bolton will serve as President Donald Trump’s national security adviser going into talks with North Korea because of his “very healthy skepticism.”
A U.S.-North Korean summit is slated for May. Hopes have been raised that Kim Jong Un may be willing to discuss his nuclear weapons program and other measures to reduce the threat of war, possibly in exchange for security guarantees and an easing of the international sanctions that have severely pinched the already struggling North Korean economy.
Defense Secretary Jim Mattis acknowledged on Tuesday that he and President Donald Trump’s incoming national security adviser, John Bolton, have different world views but predicted they will develop a working partnership.
Graham said he had dinner with Bolton a couple of nights ago and the hawkish former ambassador to the U.N. expressed fears that North Korea is “just buying time” as it seeks to develop a nuclear-armed missile.
“He sees these negotiations as a way of buying time. That’s what they’ve done in the past,” said Graham, a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee.
Bolton replaces Army Lt. Gen. H.R. McMaster on April 9.
Graham said he would be skeptical about the terms and conditions of the summit, but he does hope the president will meet with the North Korean leader. He called for negotiations that are “very focused and get quick action.”
“We don’t want to give him nine months or a year to talk and build a missile at the same time,” Graham said on “Fox News Sunday.”
At the same time, Graham warned Trump not to remove troops from Syria. Trump declared earlier this week: “Let the other people take care of it now.”
Graham said that leaving Syria would allow the Islamic State group to strengthen, the fighting between the Syrian Kurdish militia and Turkey would get out of hand, and Russia and Iran would go on to dominate Syria.
“It would be the single worst decision the president could make,” Graham said.