North Korea is engaged in a "period of accommodation" as a landmark summit between its leader, Kim Jong Un and President Donald Trump approaches, former CIA Director Leon Panetta said Thursday, and he doesn't trust them.
"I start with the principle that I don't trust North Korea," Panetta told Fox Business' "Mornings with Maria" host Maria Bartiromo. "I think that is probably a good place for the president to be."
North Korea is engaged in a period of accommodation, which is typical for the country's history, said Panetta, and he's not sure the Kim regime is serious about denuclearizing the Korean peninsula.
"They have gone through periods of provocation, and periods of accommodation, and [with] periods of accommodation, ultimately we found out we couldn't trust them," he said.
"They wouldn't stick to what they said they would do. So, I am concerned."
He said he finds it "very difficult to believe" that North Korea will give up on nuclear weapons, or its intercontinental ballistic missiles after they have developed them, as they would fear the move would jeopardize the regime.
"The real fundamental question here is, are they going to take steps to denuclearize?" said Panetta. The matter of what to do about the country's nuclear testing will all take "tremendous negotiation preparation," and a kind of diplomacy he has not yet observed from the Trump administration.
"We are a long way, I think, from developing a comprehensive agreement," said Panetta. "I hope that we can get there. But I think we should be vigilant, and we should be very cautious."
Bartiromo noted that former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice made a similar statement recently, about how when she deals with Kim's late father, Kim Jong Il, he made promises that he later backed away from.
"That is the way they are," said Panetta. "We found that to be the case with almost all of the Kims. I think it is very important right now, if the president is in fact going to sit down at a summit meeting, there is no time to develop the kind of comprehensive agreement I just talked about."
He added that his hope is that if Trump and Kim meet "there can be some agreement on framework, on broad goals," and then allow negotiations, which will take months.
Meanwhile, Kim is "playing this very smart" with his release of three American hostages, who were returned to the United States early Thursday.
The move comes after Kim allowed North Korean participation in the Winter Olympics, and after meeting with South Korean President Moon Jae-in, and after his meetings with Chinese President Xi Jinping.
"He is basically sealing his ally China, so that they will support whatever position he takes in these negotiations," said Panetta. "I think he has taken some very smart moves. We have to work with South Korea, we have to work with Japan, we have to work with our other allies in Asia, to develop a comprehensive unified approach. I don't see that happening yet."
Panetta also called on tough negotiations with China concerning balancing the trade deficit and what will be done about the South China Sea.
"He going to continue to develop militarized islands, going to continue to restrict free trade and we have to deal with that," said Panetta. "Deal with them from strength, not from weakness."
However, he does not think Trump's normal methods for negotiations may work when dealing with China.
"He may have developed this approach when he was a developer in New York, which is kind of walk into the room, tear up the agreement, and you kind of assume because there is money on the table people will come back, and try to negotiate," said Panetta.
"When it comes to international relationships it doesn't work that way. You tear up something people are going to get antsy when it involves their country. I understand you can use chaos, but you — the strategy as to where you are going, and I am afraid that is what president doesn't have."
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