Then-US President Donald Trump reportedly offered North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un a ride on Air Force 1 after a controversial 2019 summit in Hanoi, former Deputy National Security Advisor of the United States Matthew Pottinger told the BBC network on Saturday, confirming the information for CNN on Monday evening.
"The president knew that Kim had arrived on a multi-day train ride through China into Hanoi and the president said: 'I can get you home in two hours if you want.' Kim declined," Pottinger told the BBC. The revelation came in anticipation of the third and final episode of a new BBC series titled "Trump Takes On the World," directed by Tim Stirzaker, which claims it will unearth more new details about the events that led up to the summit and feature interviews with people who were in the room when the two men met. The episode is scheduled to air on Wednesday night.
The summit in the Vietnamese capital between Trump and Kim in 2019 was widely regarded in the international community as an abject failure. The two leaders left the summit's program early, because of conflicts over US calls for complete denuclearization of the Korean peninsula and North Korean demands for sanctions relief.
The reaction was so severe that three months after the summit, North Korea reportedly executed its nuclear envoy to the United States as part of a purge of the officials who steered negotiations for the failed summit.
Trump has frequently described a warm personal relationship with Kim, arguing that this rapport would help him succeed at a diplomatic breakthrough that has eluded US presidents since the 1950s. However, after the summit failed to reach a deal, the relationship was thought to have soured. Now, details in the BBC report may indicate that the personal relationship between the two may have remained stronger after the summit than previously thought.
Pottinger is a former journalist and US Marine Corps officer. At the time of the summit he functioned as the top Asia expert on Trump's National Security Council, before being promoted to deputy national security advisor in September of 2019. He served for over a year before resigning from Trump's cabinet following the Capitol riots.