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Bolton pessimistic on North Korea in 1st speech since ouster

WASHINGTON (AP) – Former national security adviser John Bolton gave a characteristically pessimistic outlook on the prospects for getting North Korea to give up its nuclear weapons as he made his first public appearance since he was ousted from his post by President Donald Trump.

Bolton told a security forum on Monday in Washington he believes North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has made a “strategic decision” to do whatever he can to keep his country’s nuclear weapons. The famously hawkish former U.N. ambassador said this should be regarded as an “unacceptable” threat to the world.

“Under current circumstances, he will never give up the nuclear weapons voluntarily,” Bolton said at an annual forum on Korea hosted by the Center for Strategic and International Studies.

Trump fired Bolton this month amid policy disagreements over North Korea and other issues.

Bolton did not mention Trump in his speech and did not address his ouster.

The Republican president has said that Bolton’s views set the United States back “very badly” in talks with the North and added that “maybe a new method would be very good.”

Bolton insisted the North should follow the Libyan path of denuclearization by fully eliminating its nuclear program upfront in a possible deal with the United States, a view he repeated at the security forum.

Asked during a question and answer session after the speech if “romance diplomacy” is an effective method, Bolton declined to comment.

North Korea recently praised Trump for saying Washington may pursue an unspecified “new method” in nuclear negotiations with Pyongyang. Those talks have been stalled for months by disagreements over trade-offs between sanctions relief and disarmament steps.

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