South Korean President Moon Jae-in’s office on Monday strongly criticized former White House National Security Adviser (NSA) John Bolton for his “distorted” account of what happened in a brisk summit diplomacy last year involving the leaders of the US and the two Koreas.
In his book, “The Room Where It Happened: A White House Memoir”, set to be published Tuesday, Bolton wrote that US President Donald Trump did not want Moon to join him during his third meeting with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un at Panmunjom in June 2019, but at the South Korean President’s insistence, he eventually agreed, reports Yonhap news agency.
Moon suggested Trump and Kim meet again at Panmunjom, inside the Demilitarized Zone dividing the Koreas, or on a US naval vessel, because he wanted “something dramatic to generate momentum for what he thought could be the summit of the century”, according to Bolton.
“Trump wanted Moon nowhere around, but Moon was determined to be present, making it a trilateral meeting if he could,” he wrote in the book
“I entertained the faint hope that this dispute with Moon could tank the whole thing, because it was certain Kim didn’t want Moon around.”
Reacting to Bolton’s claims, Chung Eui-yong, director of national security at Cheong Wa Dae, said in a statement on Monday that “a considerable portion of it is distorted”.
He played it down as based on what Bolton had seen from his “own viewpoint,” not “accurate facts”, accusing him of unilaterally disclosing details of diplomatic consultations based on trust among relevant governments.
Chung said it represents a violation of the basic principle of diplomacy, which could harm the sincerity of future negotiations “very seriously”.
He added such an “inappropriate” act could also undermine the allies’ efforts to advance joint strategies and bolster security interests.
Cheong Wa Dae said it delivered Chung’s position to the US National Security Council on Sunday, Yonhap News Agency reported.
In a separate statement, Yoon Do-han, Cheong Wa Dae’s senior secretary for public communication, said it’s not proper to offer such a “distorted” account, based on “bias and prejudice”, in connection with “candid and constructive” consultations between the leaders of the allies on the Korean Peninsula peace and an improvement in inter-Korean relations.