Trump announces firing of National Security Chief Bolton

A new replacement would be named next week, according to the White House

Photo: EPA US National Security Advisor John Bolton

President Donald Trump announced on Tuesday the firing of his National Security Advisor John Bolton. The move is widely seen as boosting the president's push to negotiate with US foes in Afghanistan, North Korea and other trouble spots.

Trump, who said he had disagreed "strongly" with Bolton on policy, announced via Twitter: "I asked John for his resignation, which was given to me this morning." A replacement - the White House's fourth national security chief in less than three years - is set to be named next week, Trump added.

Bolton, who had been scheduled to give a press conference at the White House on an unrelated matter however, disputed Trump's version of events, saying that the president had not fired him in person, as he claimed, late Monday.

"I offered to resign last night and President Trump said, 'Let's talk about it tomorrow,'" Bolton tweeted.

A Fox News television reporter said Bolton texted him to say: "Let's be clear, I resigned."

Bolton is a veteran and controversial figure closely linked to the invasion of Iraq and other aggressive US foreign policy decisions. He had been seen as one of the main driving forces in the White House's muscular approach to Iran, North Korea, Venezuela and elsewhere. Famous for his large moustache and ever-present yellow legal pad, the hardline former US ambassador to the United Nations had pushed back against Trump's dramatic, though so far stumbling, attempts to negotiate with the Taliban and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un. According to US media reports Trump's extraordinary but failed bid to fly Taliban leaders into the presidential retreat at Camp David last weekend sparked a major, final row.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo cautioned that Bolton's exit should not be interpreted as heralding strategy changes.

"I don't think any leader around the world should make any assumption that because someone of us departs that President Trump's foreign policy will change in a material way," Pompeo told reporters.

Meanwhile, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin underlined that Trump and top aides remain "completely aligned" on Washington's crippling sanctions against Iran, known as the maximum pressure campaign.

But when asked if Trump was still open to meeting his Iranian counterpart Hassan Rouhani at the United Nations General Assembly this month - an event that would be as ground breaking as his proposed Taliban talks - Pompeo said "sure."

This is not the first time Trump's administration has been shaken this way. Since entering the White House in January 2017, Trump has already had two secretaries of defence, as well as two acting secretaries, two secretaries of state, two CIA directors and a half dozen communications directors.

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