Former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper on Thursday credited President Donald Trump for "striking while the iron's hot" in agreeing to meet with North Korea's Kim Jong Un by May — but said that the session should only be the first foray toward ultimately achieving a peace treaty with Pyongyang.
"Actually, I agree — which is something for me — with President Trump's inclination to meet right away," Clapper, who served in the Obama administration, told Anderson Cooper on CNN. "There's a virtue in striking while the iron's hot.
"I would also recommend that this be a listening occasion.
"We have a great opportunity here to get — straight from the horse's mouth, which we've never had before — an expression of what it is the North Koreans need to feel secure so they don't need nuclear weapons."
Clapper admitted that "I was quite surprised at this," referring to Trump accepting Kim's offer to meet that had been delivered by South Korea. "This is profound.
"I hope we're thinking about the long game here. I do think this is a breakthrough and significant opportunity for us if we play it right."
President Trump's ultimate goal, however, should be a peace treaty with North Korea — not just denuclearization — since the only accord in place is the 1953 armistice that ended the Korean War.
"I hope we don't beat our chest here and risk coercion," Clapper told Cooper.
"In addition to what we've done with the sticks, we also need some carrots," he added, "one of which would be, at least, discussing entering into negotiations for peace treaty."
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