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Former U.S. officials expect tough North Korea policy under Trump

By Elizabeth Shim
Former U.S. officials expect tough North Korea policy under Trump
Former U.S. negotiator Christopher Hill said in Seoul on Monday the United States would be less willing to hold direct talks with North Korea under Donald Trump's administration. File Photo by Kevin Dietsch/UPI | License Photo

SEOUL, Nov. 14 (UPI) -- A former U.S. negotiator said Monday the incoming Trump administration is unlikely to hold direct talks with the North Korean leadership while a former U.S. defense secretary warned against escalating tensions that would lead to a pre-emptive strike against Pyongyang.

Christopher Hill, a chief U.S. delegate to the six-party talks, told Yonhap that under Trump the United States is likely to pursue a tough policy.

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"Provocations by North Korea to welcome the [Trump] administration would not be well received at all. I think North Korea should be very careful about making such provocations," Hill said.

The former diplomat also said the U.S. government would be less willing to hold direct talks with Pyongyang but that caution is recommended if North Korea offers to "freeze" its nuclear program because such a move would only buy the regime more time.

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During a lecture he delivered on Monday at Yonsei University in Seoul, former Defense Secretary William Perry said he doesn't expect North Korea to give up its nuclear weapons. Perry also said if Trump appoints a hardliner like former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations John Bolton as secretary of state, there is likely to be no negotiations with North Korea, Yonhap reported.

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But much of what lies ahead in terms of Trump's foreign policy remains undefined.

A chief unknown is how Trump would cooperate with China on North Korea, which Hill described on Monday as one of the most important issues, according to Yonhap.

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Hill also said Seoul already pays a considerable share of the financial burden of keeping 28,500 U.S. troops in South Korea.

"There are processes that have been under way for many years for the right balance of expenditures. I would not expect that process to change," Hill said.

Seoul currently makes more than $860 million in contributions annually.

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