WASHINGTON — The White House national security adviser Sunday described President Trump’s summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un as a success despite the lack of an agreement providing for the verifiable dismantling of the North’s nuclear sites.

John Bolton, in three television interviews, tried to make the case that Trump advanced America’s national security interests by rejecting a bad agreement while working to persuade Kim to take “the big deal that really could make a difference for North Korea.”

The U.S. and North Korea have offered contradictory accounts of why last week’s summit in Vietnam broke down, though both pointed to American sanctions as a sticking point.

Bolton said the leaders left on good terms and that Trump made an important point to North Korea and other countries that negotiate with him.

“He’s not desperate for a deal, not with North Korea, not with anybody if it’s contrary to American national interests,” Bolton said.

Bolton also sought to explain Trump’s comments about taking Kim’s word about Otto Warmbier, the American college student who was held prisoner in North Korea, then sent home in a vegetative state.

Trump said he didn’t believe Kim knew about or would have allowed what happened to Warmbier.

“He tells me that he didn’t know about it, and I will take him at his word,” Trump said at a news conference last week.

Bolton said Trump’s “got a difficult line to walk to” in negotiating with North Korea.

“It doesn’t mean that he accepts it as reality. It means that he accepts that’s what Kim Jong Un said,” Bolton said.

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., a close Trump ally, broke with the president.

“I think Kim knew what happened, which was wrong,” McCarthy said.

Some have been critical for Trump letting Kim stand with him on the world stage given North Korea’s poor human rights record.

As a result, Kim will be able to portray himself to his people and supporters as the charismatic head of a nuclear-armed power, not an international pariah that starves its citizens so it can build weapons.

But Bolton said that Trump’s view is that he “gave nothing away.”

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