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Hostage taking: Don't reward North Korea

May 12. 2018 9:28PM

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un looks out an airplane window in this undated photo released on May 9, 2018, by North Korea's Korean Central News Agency (KCNA). (KCNA via REUTERS)

One of President Donald Trump's most frustrating traits is his regular praise for dictators.

He did it again last week while greeting three Americans released from Kim Jong-un's prison state.

"We want to thank Kim Jong-un, who really was excellent to these three incredible people," Trump said.

Kim deserves no praise even if he did treat American hostages better than the estimated 120,000 North Koreans locked away in prison camps.

Kim's regime abducts foreigners as an investment strategy.

Kim released the three hostages in order to purchase some good will, and to ensure Trump follows through on a planned summit in June.

The American President praising his treatment of hostages must have been an unexpected bonus.

In 2014, President Barack Obama traded five members of the Taliban for suspected deserter Bowe Bergdahl. He even brought out Bergdahl's parents to praise the deal in the White House Rose Garden.

In 2016, Obama sent a plane loaded with $400 million in cash to Iran on the same day Iran released four American prisoners. The Obama administration also offered clemency for seven Iranians convicted of or facing criminal charges, and dismissed charges against 14 Iranians for which it was seeking extradition.

Rewarding hostage taking leads to more hostage taking. Iran and North Korea have profited from their investment in the hostage business.

It is fitting that the NRA chose last week to put Oliver North back in the national spotlight by selecting him as its next president. It is a reminder that trading for hostages can go very wrong.

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