Former United States Secretary of State Hillary Clinton criticized President Donald Trump this week on her visit to South Korea.
Clinton, a former U.S. presidential candidate, said she disapproved of Trump’s angry words about North Korea.
“There is no reason for us to be bellicose and aggressive,” she said in a speech to the World Knowledge Forum in Seoul.
Clinton expressed concern about the president’s description of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un as “little rocket man.” She also criticized Trump’s threats to answer a North Korea provocation with “fire and fury.”
Clinton said that threats to start a war are dangerous. She noted that a conflict with North Korea could endanger millions of people if a diplomatic solution is not found.
She also said that starting fights with Kim Jong Un “puts a smile on his face” and gives him the attention he wants.
Recently, U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson defended Trump’s public words and comments on the Twitter messaging service. Tillerson said they help to “create action forcing events” to move diplomacy forward.
While Clinton disagreed with Trump’s words, she seemed to support his administration’s efforts to pressure North Korea to give up its nuclear weapons program.
She agreed that North Korean plans to develop a nuclear-armed ballistic missile that can reach the U.S. mainland represent a serious threat to the United States.
But the former secretary of state did not suggest other ways to prevent North Korean testing, and offered no ideas to start talks. She did not say anything about the Russian and Chinese plan to suspend the North Korean nuclear program if the U.S. and South Korea end military exercises.
Instead she said that other countries, including China, should increase economic pressure on North Korea. She also said the U.S. and its allies need to have strong military defenses.
Clinton also was critical of Chinese actions against South Korean businesses operating in China. The actions came after the United States deployed an anti-missile system in South Korea.
Clinton said the actions of the United States and its allies should react with “proportional” force to North Korean actions against their interests. Trump has said the United States would “totally destroy North Korea” if attacked.
Any preventative military action directed at North Korea’s nuclear or missile test areas could start a war. Some leaders and observers say economic pressure alone will not make the North Korean leadership give up its nuclear activities.
Gary Samore is with the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University. He believes Americans must accept the idea that North Korea will have nuclear arms. He thinks it is no longer realistic to believe the situation can be reversed. Samore worked as an arms control expert in the administration of former U.S. President Barack Obama.
Clinton also said the action of the United States must be calm and predictable to keep peace in Asia. Trump’s methods, she believes, have been dangerous and damaging.
She said U.S. allies have expressed concerns about whether they can depend on the United States. They note Trump’s comments about unfair trade and criticism of allies for failing to provide enough financial support for U.S. military forces.
President Trump to set to make his first official visit to Asia in early next month. He will visit Japan, South Korea and China before going to attend trade and security meetings in Vietnam and the Philippines.
The South Korean presidential office said that it expects the U.S. president to talk about relations between the countries and North Korea’s activities. The office said it also expects Trump to explain his policy for the Korean peninsula and Northeast Asia.
VOA’s Brian Padden reported this story from Seoul. Susan Shand adapted his report for Learning English. George Grow was the editor. Write to us in the Comments Section or on 51VOA.COM.
Words in This Story
bellicose - adj. having or showing a tendency to argue or fight
fury - n. violent anger
proportional – adj. having a number or amount that is directly related to
reverse - v. to move to an opposite direction
peninsula - n. a piece of land that is almost entirely surrounded by water and is attached to a larger land area