Trump picks hardliner Bolton to replace McMaster as national security adviser

WASHINGTON,  (Reuters) – U.S. President Donald Trump shook up his foreign policy team again yesterday, replacing H.R. McMaster as national security adviser with John Bolton, a hawk who has advocated using military force against North Korea and Iran.

The move, announced in a tweet and a White House statement, came little more than a week after Trump fired Rex Tillerson as secretary of state and nominated Central Intelligence Agency Director Mike Pompeo to replace him.

The shake-up shows Trump, in office for 14 months, surrounding himself with advisers more likely to agree with his views and taking his foreign policy in a more hawkish direction.

What it means for a prospective summit meeting between Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un is unclear. The meeting is supposed to happen by the end of May, but an exact time and place have yet to be settled on.

Bolton’s appointment could doom the already endangered Iran nuclear deal. It could also lead to friction with Trump on how tough to be on Russia, with the president still holding out hope for improved ties with Russian President Vladimir Putin.

The news of Bolton’s appointment followed a meeting he had with Trump in the Oval Office. Even Bolton was caught by surprise. “I didn’t really expect an announcement this afternoon, but it’s obviously a great honour,” he told Fox News after the announcement. “I’m still getting used to it.”

Bolton, 69, is a Fox News analyst who contemplated a run for the Republican presidential nomination in 2016. He is a familiar figure in Washington, with a walrus-like moustache and hard-charging views on many global challenges.

Some members of Congress immediately questioned his selection for the critical position in the White House.

“This is not a wise choice. Mr. Bolton does not have the temperament or judgment to be an effective national security adviser,” Democratic Senator Jack Reed said in a statement.

Bolton tweeted on Jan. 11 that time was running out on stopping North Korea’s nuclear weapons program. He said: “We’ve got to look at the very unattractive choice of using military force to deny them that capability.”

At a time when Trump has threatened to withdraw the United States from the 2015 Iran nuclear deal, unless Europe agrees to change it, Bolton has tweeted that the deal “needs to be abrogated.”

He has also called for “effective countermeasures to the cyber war that Russia is engaging.”

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