Former Ambassador to China Max Baucus said Wednesday that "North Korea is really in the driver's seat" after dictator Kim Jong Un's summit with President Donald Trump.
"This is the danger of about 17 minutes of conversation privately between the two leaders," Baucus, 76, the former longtime Montana Democratic senator, told Brooke Baldwin on CNN.
He was referring to reports from the Pyongyang's news agency that Trump agreed to lift crippling sanctions against the country.
"We don't know what was said.
"We read the joint declaration," Baucus said. "A lot was said outside of the joint declaration and we don't know.
"Already, each side is spinning its version. We don't know whether Trump agreed to lift sanctions or not.
"The big problem here is North Korea is really in the driver's seat," Baucus explained. "Even though when there's no discussion about missiles, they will draw it out, in my judgment.
"North Korea will go slowly.
"That plays to their interest to get some sanctions relieved," he added. "China very much likes this drawn out because that enhances the power of China to be part of the solution, as well.
"I'm not terribly surprised. We all want this to work.
"We're not too surprised," he said.
The Korean Central News Agency called the Singapore summit an "epoch-making meeting much awaited by the whole world," according to USA Today.
The report also said President Trump "expressed his intention to halt the U.S.-South Korea joint military exercises, which Pyongyang regards as provocation," and would "offer security guarantees to the DPRK," the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.
But President Trump told reporters before leaving Singapore that the sanctions "will come off when we are sure that the nukes are no longer a factor."
He added that he would like to lift economic sanctions in return for Pyongyang denuclearizing, but said that no immediate plans were in the works to do so.
However, Trump did announce the U.S. was ending its joint military exercises in the region with South Korea, which Kim has long complained about and slammed as "war games."
Baucus told Baldwin that "I would not be surprised" if that suggestion came from Russia President Vladimir Putin.
"It's in Putin's interest if the United States withdraws from South Korea and ultimately bring our troops out.
"That's in Putin's interests, in China's interest and North Korea's interest."
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