John Everard told the Today Programme that the Trump administration lacks expertise about North Korea, cautioning that the hastily arranged talks could be a ruse on the part of Pyongyang to railroad the US into making dangerous concessions.
‘We are looking at a summit which appears to be taking place without any kid of preparatory talks.
‘There’s all kinds of areas of disagreements between the Americans and North Korea as we all know. And to simply leap into a summit like this I think has taken the diplomatic world rather by surprise.
‘Why is Kim Jong-un doing this? I think there must be a suspicion that he thinks if he rushes Donald Trump into a summit that he can, in the parlance, roll him, and that he can get him to say across table things that North Korea has been asking for for a long time,’ Mr Everard said.
‘This is a big, big gamble. If Donald Trump holds firm then Kim Jong-un is in deep trouble.
‘If on the other hand Donald trump does give the North Koreans the things they want, the world becomes a very different and probably much more dangerous place.’
The President and the Korean dictator are set to meet before May to discuss disarmament.
The shock announcement from the two leaders, who have repeatedly insulted and threatened one another, would be the first time a North Korean and an American leader have ever held official face-to-face talks.
Mr Everard further warned that the US may be walking into talks without the experience required.
He said: ‘The US is short of staff, particularly short of staff with experience in North Korea.
‘There are plenty of Americans around who know North Korea very well, who have been involved in previous negotiations, who are used to dealing with North Koreans, but none of them are actually in the administration.’
Vice President Mike Pence praised the meeting as evidence of Trump’s strategy success.
He said: ‘North Korea’s desire to meet to discuss denuclearisation – while suspending all ballistic missile and nuclear testing – is evidence that President Trump’s strategy to isolate the Kim regime is working.
‘The North Koreans are coming to the table despite the United States making zero concessions and, in close coordination with our allies, we have consistently increased the pressure on the Kim regime.’
The President tweeted today that ‘great progress’ was being made but that sanctions would remain in place before an agreement was reached.
Kim Jong Un talked about denuclearization with the South Korean Representatives, not just a freeze. Also, no missile testing by North Korea during this period of time. Great progress being made but sanctions will remain until an agreement is reached. Meeting being planned!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) March 9, 2018
The latest round of sanctions to be imposed on North Korea by the US was announced on Wednesday, when the State Department revealed punitive measures in response to its finding that Pyongyang was behind the nerve agent assassination of Mr Kim’s half-brother.
The announcement blindsided swathes of the international community.
Such a meeting would have been an unthinkable suggestion just a few months ago, when Mr Trump was branding Kim ‘Little Rocket Man’, and was dubbed a ‘senile dotard’ in return.
Liberal South Korean President Moon Jae-in, who some believe has manoeuvred the two leaders to this position, declared on Friday that it will be a “historical milestone” that will put the denuclearisation of the Korean Peninsula “really on track”.
US secretary of state Rex Tillerson said the “dramatic” and surprising change of posture by Mr Kim led Mr Trump to agree to the meeting with the North Korean leader.
Mr Tillerson said the US was taken aback at how “forward-leaning” Mr Kim had been in his conversations with a visiting South Korean delegation.
Mr Tillerson said Mr Trump made the decision “himself” after determining the time was right for “talks” – but not formal negotiations.
But he said it will take “some weeks” to arrange the timing for their meeting.