According to Nikki Haley, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, North Korea’s intention is to use Kim as a bargaining chip.
“What we’re dealing with is a leader who is flailing right now, and I think what he’s trying to do is show his citizens that he has muscle, whether it’s through his rhetoric or whether it’s through his actions, that’s what he’s trying to do,” Haley said Monday on “CBS This Morning.”
Kim, whose Korean name is Kim Sang-duk, was taken into custody Saturday at Pyongyang International Airport as he was trying to leave the country. Haley said the administration is trying to gather more information about Kim and that “we always want to get every citizen out alive and healthy and make sure that they’re being treated properly.”
Haley said the North Korean regime wants a bilateral conversation with the U.S., but “we’re not going to do it.”
“Until they show that they are in good faith, not going to test and not use nuclear weapons, we’re not going to sit down and appease them by having talks with them,” she said. “What we will do is continue to work with China to get that message to them.”
President Trump spoke by phone Sunday night with Chinese President Xi Jinping and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe about North Korea’s nuclear program. Haley said China is doing “quite a bit” to partner with the U.S.
“They are trying to put pressure on North Korea. What we’ve said is, we want you to put more pressure on North Korea, whether that’s with coal, whether that’s with oil, whether that’s with other sanctions. And I think that they are also talking with the leaders in North Korea and telling them that they don’t need to do anything,” Haley said. “So I think China has been a really great friend of ours, and the way they came together with us to do the statement last week showed that we’re united against wanting North Korea to stay away from doing any sort of nuclear threats.”
Despite the administration’s optimism, there have been questions about whether China is sincere about working with the U.S. to hinder dictator Kim Jong Un from developing the country’s nuclear program.
Ultimately, Haley said North Korea needs to “stop misbehaving.”
“We have said for quite a while now the United States is not looking for a fight. So North Korea doesn’t need to give us a reason to have one,” Haley said. “I think that they’re panicking right now.”