Former New Mexico Gov. Discusses U.S.-North Korea Relations in Chatham

Gov. Bill Richardson speaking at St. Christopher’s Church, Chatham

CHATHAM – The former governor of New Mexico was on Cape Cod Wednesday to discuss U.S.-North Korean relations and what happens next after the recent summit between the nations’ leaders.

Bill Richardson, who has also served as a congressman and Ambassador to the United Nations, has traveled to North Korea 8 times and has spoken with the nations’ officials regarding several issues.

Speaking at a Friends of the Eldredge Public Library event in Chatham, Richardson said the North Korean’s do not make concessions because they believe they are right all the time.

“They are constantly in what is called a siege mentality. They don’t think we do. They don’t believe in quid pro quos.” Richardson said. “When you negotiate with them their idea of a concession is ‘you didn’t agree with my position but I’m going to give them a few hours and then he will come to my position.’”

Richardson said the county is very isolated and have been under sanctions from the U.S. and neighboring countries.

“There is a very closed mentality,” he said. “It doesn’t mean they are not intelligent. It doesn’t mean they don’t know how to negotiate. They do.”

Their leadership and their people are also taught to hate the United States.

Richardson never met Kim Jong Un during his trips to North Korea but briefly shook the hands of his father and negotiated mainly with foreign ministry and military people.

Kim Jong Un is 34 years old and speaks English.

“We know he is very technical and he knows his nuclear weapons programs,” Richardson said. “We know he likes basketball like his father. He like Western things.”

He is also accused of murdering his brother and members of his family.

“He is ruthless in wanting to keep his power,” Richardson said.

Richardson believes we have underestimated the North Korean leader and that he is a rational actor.

“Is he a good man? Probably not. Can he be trusted? No. But he has 60 nuclear weapons,” Richardson said.

Richardson said President Trump was right to meet with Kim Jong Un.

“So far our Korean policy hasn’t yielded any results but I have to give him credit. It could move in the right direction,” he said. “It was a gamble and a risk worth taking.”

Richardson said current tensions on the Korean Peninsula are at the lowest levels that he has ever seen.

He believes the summit could be part of the reason for the reduced tensions, but that debate won’t come until after we see results.

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