Leon Panetta, former secretary of defense and CIA director, told FOX Business that President Donald Trump must remain “vigilant” when dealing with North Korea.
“I start from the principle that I don’t trust North Korea, and I think that’s probably a good place for the president to be,” Panetta told Maria Bartiromo during an interview on “Mornings with Maria” on Thursday.
On the heels of a planned, historic summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, Trump, who has been a harsh critic of the regime, now says “great progress” has been made.
But in Panetta’s opinion, developing nuclear weapons is a means of protecting their regime, and it would take months to develop a comprehensive agreement.
“We found that to be the case with almost all of the Kims and they all were interested in the regime, they were all interested in preserving it,” he said. “And they were willing to do whatever was necessary in order to get that done.”
He added: “My hope is that if they are going to meet, there can be some agreement on framework, on some broad goals, that then allow negotiators from all these key countries to sit down and look through the elements that have to be decided.”
Meanwhile, Trump on Wednesday welcomed home three American prisoners released by North Korea after a surprise diplomatic mission by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.
But Panetta issued a warning to the president: Don’t get caught “flat-footed.”
“He’s playing this very smart. He’s not only releasing the hostages, he’s not only playing nice, he not only went to the Olympics and he’s not only met with the South Korean president, but even beyond that, he’s now released these prisoners,” he said. “He’s also gone to China – smart move, because he is basically sealing his ally, China, so that they will support whatever position he takes in these negotiations.”