Accounts by former U.S. National Security Adviser John Bolton of discussions between leaders of the United States and the two Koreas in his upcoming book are inaccurate and distorted, South Korea said on Monday.
Bolton gives details in the book of conversations before and after three meetings between U.S. President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, including how their second summit in Vietnam fell apart.
The book, “The Room Where It Happened: A White House Memoir”, is scheduled for publication on Tuesday but media outlets have released excerpts.
Reports have cited Bolton as writing that Moon, who is keen to improve relations with North Korea, had raised unrealistic expectations with both Kim and Trump for his own “unification” agenda.
“It does not reflect accurate facts and substantially distorts facts,” South Korea’s national security adviser, Chung Eui-yong, said in a statement referring to Bolton’s description of top-level consultations.
Chung did not elaborate on specific areas South Korea saw as inaccurate but said the publication set a “dangerous precedent”.
“Unilaterally publishing consultations made based on mutual trust violates the basic principles of diplomacy and could severely damage future negotiations,” he said.
Trump and Kim met for the first time in Singapore in June 2018, raising hope for efforts to press North Korea to give up its nuclear programme in exchange for the lifting of sanctions.
But their second summit, in Vietnam in early 2019, collapsed when Trump rejected an offer by Kim to give up North Korea’s main nuclear facility in return for lifting some sanctions.
Bolton reportedly cites Chung as relaying Moon’s response to the breakdown as, on the one hand, Trump was right to reject Kim’s proposal but on the other, Kim’s willingness to dismantle the Yongbyon facility was a “very meaningful first step” toward “irreversible” denuclearisation.
Bolton refers to Moon’s position as “schizophrenic”.
Asked about that reference by Bolton, a top official in Moon’s office told reporters: “Perhaps he is in that condition.”
(Reporting by Hyonhee Shin; Editing by Robert Birsel)