Likud minister: Kim summit shows Trump can deal with tyrants; bring on Rouhani

Gilad Erdan says similar meeting with Iran’s president would ‘not be terrible,’ as long as goal remains to end Tehran’s nuke program and change the ‘nature of the regime’

North Korea's leader Kim Jong Un (L) walks with US President Donald Trump (R) at the start of their historic US-North Korea summit, at the Capella Hotel on Sentosa island in Singapore, on June 12, 2018. (AFP Photo/Saul Loeb)
North Korea's leader Kim Jong Un (L) walks with US President Donald Trump (R) at the start of their historic US-North Korea summit, at the Capella Hotel on Sentosa island in Singapore, on June 12, 2018. (AFP Photo/Saul Loeb)

A top Israeli minister and Likud leader praised US President Donald Trump’s summit meeting with North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un, as “a tremendous achievement,” and said a similar meeting between Trump and Iranian President Hassan Rouhani would “not be terrible.”

Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan, the number-2 lawmaker on the ruling Likud party’s Knesset list, said it was a “historic morning” following the summit in Singapore, which took place at 4 a.m., Israel time.

“Without getting into what [agreement] might be signed or not, the very fact that the intent appears to be that the relationship and the talks will continue, and that it’s clear to us that President Trump doesn’t like to be a sucker, and that he understands that if there isn’t denuclearization, it will make him look ridiculous… we have here a tremendous achievement that shows that a policy of resolve and deterrence appears to be much more effective when facing tyrants or empires or states with values different to our own,” Erdan said in an Army Radio interview Tuesday morning.

Trump and Kim held the unprecedented meeting in Singapore, after which they signed a joint document praised by both leaders.

Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan speaks at the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, at the Inbal Hotel in Jerusalem, February 19, 2018. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

“We are signing a very important document, a pretty comprehensive document, and we have had a really great term together, a great relationship,” said the US president, before signing an agreement with Kim committing to “denuculearization of the Korean Peninsula.”

Erdan praised the meeting as a rebuke to critics and doubters of the controversial American president.

In this photo released by the Iranian Presidency Office, President Hassan Rouhani, left, speaks as he is accompanied by the head of Iran’s Atomic Energy Organization Ali Akbar Salehi on a visit to the Bushehr nuclear power plant just outside the port city of Bushehr, southern Iran, Tuesday, Jan. 13, 2015. (AP Photo/Iranian Presidency Office, Mohammad Berno)

“The pundits should be doing some soul-searching today,” he said.

Asked if the summit was significant even if no dramatic agreement had been reached, he said, “If this were an Israeli leader and some other, let’s say Palestinian, leader, no one would say nothing happened. They’d say the fact that a meeting even took place is a very significant achievement.”

Asked about the idea of a similar Trump meeting with Rouhani, Erdan welcomed the notion.

“Given Trump’s values, both as expressed during the election and afterwards in his actions, it would not be terrible if such a meeting happens, as long as its goal and purpose is to dismantle Iran’s nuclear weapons [program], and also, as Trump understands, that’s not enough, but [the goal must also be] to change the nature of the regime and its support for terror all over the world, certainly in the Middle East.”

Former Israeli prime minister and army chief Ehud Barak was less enthusiastic, but no less hopeful.

“An amazing event in Singapore,” he says in a Twitter post. “Who expected this four months ago? The balance thus far is worrying: a huge achievement for the young Korean dictator, an enormous gamble for President Trump. Fireworks in honor of the ‘great success’ tonight. The question: When and whether we will wake up with a ‘hangover.’ The consolation: It won’t be boring.”

The summit — unthinkable only months ago — comes after the two nuclear-armed foes appeared on the verge of conflict late last year as they slung personal insults and Kim conducted nuclear and missile tests.

Agencies contributed to this report.

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