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International relations

Bolton's account of North Korea talks is distorted, Seoul says

Former US adviser's memoir claims South Korea pushed for Trump-Kim summit

From left, then-U.S. national security adviser John Bolton, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and President Donald Trump attend the second North Korea-U.S. summit in Hanoi in February 2019.   © Reuters

SEOUL -- Former U.S. national security adviser John Bolton provides an inaccurate account of the negotiations surrounding efforts to dismantle North Korea's nuclear weapons program in his memoir, South Korea's presidential Blue House said on Monday.

"The Room Where It Happened," due to be released Tuesday, "does not reflect accurate facts, and the truth is being distorted in large portions," said Chung Eui-yong, head of the National Security Office in the Blue House.

Bolton writes that it was Chung who proposed to North Korean leader Kim Jong Un that he hold a summit with U.S. President Donald Trump, according to an article in the South Korean newspaper Chosun Ilbo. Chung reportedly made the pitch during a March 2018 trip to North Korea.

Kim and Trump held the historic summit in Singapore during June 2018, which opened the door to their no-deal summit in Hanoi in February 2019. Bolton wrote that the "diplomatic fandango" between the U.S. and North Korea was "South Korea's creation," alleging that it reflected Seoul's "unification agenda."

Chung accused Bolton of breaking basic diplomatic decorum by unilaterally revealing information about the negotiations. He did not detail which parts of the book he thought were inaccurate.

Such disclosures "risk greatly damaging efforts to strengthen bilateral security interests between South Korea and the U.S.," said Chung, who added that Washington should take "appropriate measures" to prevent a recurrence.

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