Trump opposes using CIA informants against N Korea's Kim

June 12, 2019 09:32
A file picture shows North Korea's leader Kim Jong-un and US President Donald Trump during their second summit on Feb. 28 in Hanoi, Vietnam. Photo: Reuters

US President Donald Trump took a public stance against the use of CIA informants to spy on North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, saying it would not happen on his watch, Reuters reports. 

“I saw the information about the CIA, with respect to his brother, or half-brother. And I would tell him that would not happen under my auspices, that’s for sure. I wouldn’t let that happen under my auspices,” Trump was quoted as telling reporters at the White House on Tuesday.

The remarks came a day after the Wall Street Journal reported that Kim’s slain half-brother, Kim Jong-nam, was a source for the US Central Intelligence Agency. Kim Jong-nam was killed at the airport in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, in 2017.

Trump's comments represented a fresh attempt by the president to cozy up to the North Korean leader, a policy that has drawn criticism for seeming to overlook Kim’s autocratic rule, Reuters noted.

It also marked the latest in a series of instances in which he has appeared to be at odds with the US intelligence community.

Susan Rice, who was national security adviser for Trump’s Democratic predecessor, Barack Obama, tweeted her reaction to the remarks: “America, this tells you all you need to know about our so-called ‘Commander-in-Chief.’”

North Korea, a police state largely sealed off from the outside world that uses extensive networks of informants to spy on their fellow citizens, is considered a “hard target” by the US intelligence community because of the difficulty of recruiting agents.

Preventing the CIA from being able to recruit sources like Kim’s late half-brother or highly placed North Koreans would deny the agency valuable insights into its leadership and threats to regional and US security.

After exchanging insults and war-like rhetoric with Kim early in his presidency, Trump in the past year has repeatedly praised him. They have held two summits as Trump tries to convert what he feels is a warm personal relationship into a diplomatic breakthrough.

Trump, speaking a day before the one-year anniversary of their landmark Singapore summit, did not rule out another meeting with Kim. 

North Korean state media called on the US earlier on Tuesday to “withdraw its hostile policy” toward Pyongyang or agreements made at the Singapore summit might become “a blank sheet of paper”.

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