Praising President Donald Trump's progress with diplomacy in denuclearization talks with North Korea, former NATO Supreme Allied Commander James Stavridis is "cautiously optimistic" and gives "70- to 80-percent chance perhaps we can negotiate our way out of this."
"I think we have a real opportunity here," former U.S. Admiral Stavridis told John Catsimatidis on Sunday's "The Cats Roundtable" on 970 AM-N.Y.
"I've said for a long time, I think there's a 70 percent chance of resolving this diplomatically. That may be edging up a little bit."
Stavridis pointed to three reasons for progress with North Korea, starting with "a more aggressive U.S. president who has shown a willingness to use force as he did last week in Syria," a North Korean regime that has proven it is nuclear capable, and South Korean president "more open to dialogue," especially after "tactical benefit" from "feel good" of the winter Olympics.
"I'm cautiously optimistic – 70- to 80-precent chance perhaps we can negotiate our way out of this," Stavridis told host John Catsimatidis.
Stavridis added "the toughest part of the negotiation is going to be the verification regime" and what is North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un going to accept in terms of the availability of nuclear inspections.
"It's often referred to as the hermit kingdom," Stavridis said. "I think the hermit is going to have to open the door to the hermitage. So, I say, verify, then build trust."
The retired admiral added Iran needs to be wary President Trump is installing foreign policy hardliners John Bolton, as national security adviser, and Mike Pompeo, as secretary of state.
"If I were sitting in Tehran right now and I saw those two moving into position, I would be very concerned about a hardline US policy, and that leads the Iranians to some very difficult decisions," Stavridis told Catsimatidis. "Let's hope they play it smart and don't return to enriching uranium, which is the path to nuclear weapons . . .
"Let us hope the Iranians play this intelligently and reduce their activities in the Middle East in a variety of different capitals where they are engaged, as well as reduce their long-range ballistic missile testing program. They've got work to do — or they should be very worried looking at this administration."
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