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Bill Clinton’s North Korea negotiator has some advice for Trump

Ambassador Mitchell Reiss, lead negotiator with Pyongyang during the Clinton administration, explains how difficult negotiations with North Korea can be.

North Korea’s first successful test of an intercontinental ballistic missile came at an odd time.

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un announced the feat on Tuesday, just days after South Korean President Moon Jae-in visited Washington, where discussions on how to stop the Hermit Kingdom’s nuclear program were at the top of the agenda.

Neither the United States nor South Korea has a proven strategy. But even if the two countries can agree on a way forward, a more-daunting step may lie ahead: direct negotiations with the North Koreans.

When Ambassador Mitchell Reiss served as lead negotiator during the Clinton administration, he learned just how hard talking to Pyongyang can be. According to Reiss, the U.S. should explore strategies other than diplomacy — like denying the country the money and technology necessary for a nuclear program.

“They often ascribe different meanings to the same word. So you go from concept, to word, to meaning,” he said. “That takes an awfully long time.”

This segment originally aired June 29, 2017, on VICE News Tonight on HBO.