Trump Asia Expert to Become Deputy National Security Adviser

By Reuters
September 22, 2019 Updated: September 22, 2019

ABOARD AIR FORCE ONE—U.S. President Donald Trump’s new national security adviser said on Sept. 22 that White House Asia policy adviser Matt Pottinger would become his top deputy.

Robert O’Brien made the announcement on Air Force One as Trump flew from Ohio to New York, where the president will spend most of the week attending events related to the United Nations General Assembly.

Last Wednesday, Trump named O’Brien, a veteran foreign policy hand who had served as U.S. hostage negotiator, to replace John Bolton as national security adviser.

“Robert O’Brien is done a fantastic job for us with hostage negotiations,” Trump said during a joint press conference with Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison on Sept. 20 in the White House. “I think we can say that there has never been anybody that has done better than you and I as a combination.

“We’ve brought many people home, and we brought them home quickly,” he said. “So I think he’s going to do a great job.”

Trump and the hawkish Bolton had differences over foreign policy challenges such as Iran, Afghanistan, and North Korea.

Pottinger is a former journalist and ex-U.S. Marine who has helped forge China and North Korea policy since Trump took office in January 2017.

“He’s a team player,” O’Brien said.

Pottinger played a key role in arranging Trump’s summits with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.

Trump said he sees the meetings as a good thing. “Worst that happens, it doesn’t work out. That’s okay. Even then, you get to know your opposition,” Trump said at the White House on Sept. 20

“I think the best thing that’s happened to this country is the fact that, at least for three years, the fact that I have a very good relationship with Kim Jong Un. I think that’s a positive.

“His country has tremendous potential. He knows that. But our country has been playing around for 50 years and getting nothing.”

Now that he and Kim have a relationship, Trump said, “We’ll see what happens. It might work out.

“I’m not saying it will, but in the meantime, he hasn’t been testing any nuclear.

“He has been doing some short-range missiles, but so does every other country—do short-range missiles. Every country is doing them. They’re pretty standard fare.”

The Epoch Times staff contributed to this report.