North Korean officials seek meetings with GOP analysts to figure out Trump: report

North Korean officials seek meetings with GOP analysts to figure out Trump: report
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North Korean officials have sought meetings with Republican analysts in Washington in an effort to better understand President Trump.

The Washington Post reported Tuesday that North Korean government officials have been reaching out to Asia experts with GOP ties since before the recent bout of threats between Trump and Pyongyang broke out.

“Their no. 1 concern is Trump," one person familiar with North Korea's outreach told the Post. "They can’t figure him out."

In all, Pyongyang has requests out to seven organizations that have helped arrange and host meetings between North Korean officials and Americans in the past.

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Trump and North Korean officials have been engaged for months in a back-and-forth of threats and insults that appeared to reach new heights on Monday when the country's foreign minister called a tweet from Trump a declaration of war. He also said that the North would shoot down U.S. aircraft even outside of North Korea's airspace. 

That the North Koreans are looking to talk with Republican-connected experts and analysts does not signal that they are ready to sit down for negotiations, according to the Post. Pyongyang has insisted that the country be recognized as a nuclear weapons state — a demand rejected by the U.S. 

North Korean officials have met with Americans in neutral places, like Geneva and Kuala Lumpur, in the past. Those meetings, known as "Track 1.5" talks, are considered official by Pyongyang and unofficial by the U.S.

The North Koreans, however, have become more interested in making sense of Trump's strategy and intentions, according to the Post.

Among those that the North Koreans have sought meetings with include Bruce Klingner, a former CIA analyst and a North Korea expert at the Heritage Foundation. He declined the invitation.

North Korean officials also asked Douglas Paal, a former Asia expert in the Reagan and George H.W. Bush administrations who is now the vice president for studies at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, to help arrange meetings with Republican analysts. Paal declined that request.