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Ill-timed testimony

Mar 07,2019 - Last updated at Mar 07,2019

President Donald Trump now blames the incriminating testimony of his former lawyer Michael Cohen against him in Washington for the failure of the Hanoi summit with North Korea’s leader Kim Jong-un last week by creating a distracting atmosphere from the summit momentum.

Trump may have a point! Cohen has called Trump all sorts of names, including a conman and a racist, during his latest testimony before a congressional committee. No doubt, calling the US president all sorts of incriminating names while on a high level talks with the leader of another country is devastating to his state of mind.

As a matter of fact, Trump did say in Hanoi that holding an investigative session with Cohen at the same time when he was about to hold last-ditch effort to conclude a deal for the denuclearisation of North Korea is counterproductive, as it poisons the atmosphere of the summit, and, perhaps, puts him in a non-conciliatory state of mind and more negative than ever about reaching an extensive deal with the North Korean leader.

In retrospect, Cohen’s derogatory testimony against Trump was ill timed to say the least, irrespective of the veracity of the accusations. No doubt calling Trump names while holding a summit with Kim is distracting to say the least, and may have, indeed, tilted the state of mind of Trump into a negative territory.

What made the congressional probe into Trump’s behaviour, which amounted to character assassination, take place while he was in a foreign capital for high-stakes negotiations with Kim is, indeed, troubling.

Now all this is behind us, and the momentum for reaching a deal with North Korea is perhaps lost for many months, if not years. Perhaps the two sides will now have time to reassess their respective negotiating posture. It is axiomatic in the art of negotiation that the state of mind of negotiators is critical. A cooling off period can be useful before the resumption of talks once again between the two leaders.

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