Top admiral: Don't be 'overly optimistic' about results of Trump-Kim summit

Top admiral: Don't be 'overly optimistic' about results of Trump-Kim summit
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The top admiral overseeing the U.S. military in the Asia-Pacific region warned Thursday not to be “overly optimistic” about the outcome of President TrumpDonald TrumpThe Memo: The Obamas unbound, on race Iran says onus is on US to rejoin nuclear deal on third anniversary of withdrawal Assaults on Roe v Wade increasing MORE’s meeting with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.

“As we go into this, I think we can't be overly optimistic on outcomes,” Adm. Harry Harris, commander of U.S. Pacific Command, told the Senate Armed Services Committee. “We'll just have to see where it goes, if and when we have the summit.”

Last week, a South Korean official announced from outside the White House that Trump accepted Kim’s offer to meet face to face.


In a meeting with a South Korean delegation, officials said Kim had offered to put North Korea’s nuclear program on the table, as well as stop nuclear and missile testing during talks and not raise objections to upcoming U.S.-South Korean military exercises.

The Trump administration has pledged to continue the so-called maximum pressure campaign on North Korea as it pursues talks and said Trump’s goal remains the denuclearization of the Korean peninsula.

If Trump follows through with the summit, it would be the first time a sitting U.S. president has met with a North Korean leader.

In Thursday’s hearing, Harris underscored the unprecedented nature of the situation. Asked by Armed Services ranking member Sen. Jack ReedJack ReedOvernight Defense: Former Navy secretary reportedly spent .4M on travel | Ex-Pentagon chief Miller to testify on Jan. 6 Capitol attack | Austin to deliver West Point commencement speech Overnight Defense: Gillibrand makes new push for military sexual assault reform | US troops begin leaving Afghanistan | Biden budget delay pushes back annual defense policy bill Biden budget delay pushes back annual defense policy bill MORE (D-R.I.) about the likelihood of an agreement on North Korea's nuclear program after one or two meetings, Harris said, “I don’t know.”

“We've never been in a position where a president, our president has met with a leader of North Korea, ever,” Harris continued. “And so I don't have a way to predict the future. I just think that we have to go into this eyes wide open.”

Even if there’s no agreement, he added later, there’s value in talking.

“The opportunity to engage has value of itself regardless of the outcome,” he said. “I believe that [Kim] seeks security, and he seeks respect, and he seeks reunification of the Korean Peninsula under his leadership. Those are his ultimate gains, ultimate objectives, in my opinion. And the talks, if they produce results, or if they produce further talks to hopefully produce some good results, that will be where the details lie.”

Harris also became the latest official to deny that the Trump administration is contemplating a so-called bloody nose strike on North Korea. The alleged strategy would see the United States conduct a limited strike on North Korea to show it is serious about stopping Pyongyang’s nuclear weapons development. The hope would be North Korea gets the message and does not strike back.

“We have no bloody nose strategy,” Harris said. “I don't know what that is, the press have run with it. I'm charged with developing for the National Command Authority a range of options through the spectrum of violence. And I'm ready to execute whatever the president and the National Command Authority directs me to do. But a bloody nose strategy is not contemplated.”

If the United States strikes, he added, it needs to be ready for a full war. 

“I believe, senator, that if we do anything along the kinetic region of the spectrum of conflict,” Harris said, “that we have to be ready to do the whole thing.”