In an appearance at The Atlantic Festival Wednesday, Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina counseled President Trump against praising North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un.
“I’m worried that North Korea is dividing us from South Korea. I’m worried that we’re being played here, so I’m telling President Trump: Enough with ‘I love you.’ From my point of view this ‘love’ crap needs to stop. There’s nothing to love about Kim Jong-un,” Graham said, referencing Trump’s Saturday claim to have fallen “in love” with Kim over the course of their correspondence.
“Here’s what I worry about: You get sucked into the love thing and nothing changes. So he has really created a hard choice for himself, in my view,” Graham added.
Asked by The Atlantic editor-in-chief Jeffrey Goldberg if he believed Trump would be successful in bringing about North Korean denuclearization, Graham suggested that the president’s recent complimentary rhetoric might give Kim the wrong impression.
“If he can convince rocket man that it’s death or condos he’s ok. If rocket man believes that he’s got Trump loving him and backing off than we’re all in trouble,” the senator said.
Speaking at a rally in West Virginia Saturday, Trump praised Kim and suggested that their relationship has improved dramatically since their heated public exchanges earlier this year.
“I was really being tough, and so was he, and we’d go back and forth. And then we fell in love. Okay? No, really. He wrote me beautiful letters, and they’re great letters. We fell in love,” Trump told the crowd.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is scheduled to travel to North Korea on Sunday to meet personally with Kim in preparation for a second summit between Trump and the North Korean leader. Negotiations since the first summit in July have stalled as Pompeo has repeatedly urged Pyongyang to begin taking demonstrable steps toward denuclearization, while the Kim regime has demanded that the U.S. begin to lift existing sanctions before the denuclearization process begins in earnest.