Nobel Peace Prize winner Donald Trump? It’s not that far-fetched, according to South Korean president Moon Jae-in, who said Monday he believed the U.S. president should get the award for helping to resolve the standoff with North Korea.
“President Trump should win the Nobel Peace Prize. What we need is only peace,” the South Korean leader told a meeting of senior staff, according to an official from the presidential Blue House.
There’s still weeks to go before Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un are scheduled to meet in hopes of resolving the North Korean crisis. But that hasn’t stopped overblown reactions gaining airtime in the wake of Friday’s historic summit between the Koreas. Along with Moon, some U.S. Republicans have expressed their belief that the U.S. president could be a contender for the Nobel in recognition of his latest efforts to defuse the crisis. Even British bookmakers are giving Trump a fighting chance.
But for Moon, it may have been an expression of modesty. His remark was reportedly made in response to a message from Lee Hee-ho, a former South Korean first lady, congratulating him on the apparent breakthrough at a rare inter-Korean summit Friday, when Moon and the North Korean leader pledged to end hostilities and work toward the complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.
After Lee, widow of late South Korean President Kim Dae-jung, said Moon deserved the Nobel Peace Prize for his efforts, Moon responded that Trump deserved it instead.
The Trump administration has spearheaded international efforts to impose a campaign of “maximum pressure” on Pyongyang, dispensing with the Obama-era doctrine of “strategic patience” over the North’s nuclear ambitions. Trump has swung wildly in asserting that "pressure”: He's issued threats about the size of his nuclear button, sparked speculation about a potential preemptive “bloody nose” attack on the North, and engaged in personal Twitter attacks against the “Little Rocket Man” — all before agreeing to an historic summit with the North Korean dictator, expected to be held in the next three to four weeks.
Kim and Moon discussed the impending summit during their historic meeting at the border Friday, the Blue House official said.
The U.S. has welcomed the apparent breakthrough, but underlined that it remained committed to its pressure campaign until Pyongyang’s nuclear weapons program was scrapped. Trump told Moon in a phone call Saturday that he was pleased the Korean leaders had affirmed their commitment to denuclearization. On Sunday, Trump's team continued to apply pressure, with U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo saying the campaign of sanctions would continue as planned.
Trump tweeted about the impending Kim summit Monday:
Late Sunday, he had trumpeted the apparent progress on the issue: Headline: “Kim Prepared to Cede Nuclear Weapons if U.S. Pledges Not to Invade” - from the Failing New York Times. Also, will shut down Nuclear Test Site in May,” he tweeted.
Friday’s historic summit on the Korean Peninsula has sparked calls from Trump’s fellow Republicans for the president to be awarded the prize. U.S. Rep. Luke Messer, who is running for Senate in Indiana, issued a statement Friday saying he was “gathering congressional support to formally nominate” Trump for the prize, while Sen. Lindsey Graham, Trump’s former rival for the Republican presidential nomination, also raised the prospect of the award.
“Donald Trump convinced North Korea and China he was serious about bringing about change,” Graham tweeted. “We're not there yet, but if this happens, President Trump deserves the Nobel Peace Prize.”
British bookmakers also jumped into the action. Trump is currently listed by bookmakers Coral in joint second place, alongside the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees, at odds of 10/1; Moon and Kim are the favorites at odds of 4/6.
Cover image: In this April 27, 2018 file photo, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, left, prepares to shake hands with South Korean President Moon Jae-in over the military demarcation line at the border village of Panmunjom in Demilitarized Zone. (Korea Summit Press Pool via AP, File)