Former Obama Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense Evelyn Farkas appeared on Thursday evening's Hardball to react to President Trump's decision to accept an invitation to meet with North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un. Farkas told MSNBC host Chris Matthews "unfortunately" the bluster from President Trump got Jong-un to the table.
Farkas cautioned people not to get "overly excited" about Jong-un's decision to have direct negotiations with Trump.
Outside the White House Thursday night, South Korean National Security Advisor Chung Eui-yong said Trump said "he would meet Kim Jong Un by May to achieve permanent denuclearization." Jong-un said for now he will stop missile tests.
Chung Eui-yong also praised Trump's policy of "maximum pressure" on Jong-un.
"I would caution everyone not to get overly enthusiastic," Farkas said. "I think we are excited now because again, in the contrast between this negotiating and fire and fury, you know, military action, which is what we were hearing out of the White House is scary and so we're happy that we have engagement. But if you remember what Vice President Pence said coming back from the Olympics he said we're going to look at engagement and maximum pressure."
"The North Koreans pocketed what we gave them, the assistance and various other things and they left the negotiating table," Farkas said of prior negotiations. "So I really believe while we should absolutely go forward and we should pocket the concessions we can get from them, and we should negotiate in good faith but we need to keep the pressure on. We can't agree right now that we're going to take the pressure off."
"This time we're not giving them coal like the last time. We're not giving them stuff like previous presidents have, Matthews said.
"What do we got to lose by talking at this point?" Matthews asked.
"Nothing," Farkas said. "We absolutely have to talk and I agree with joe that you know, we buy time. We buy time. And if what they really will be satisfied with is respect and normalization, great, we can give that to them. But we have to maintain the pressure. Because remember what got them to the table, the sanctions and unfortunately probably some of the bluster coming out of the White House."