msnbc | March 18, 2013
woman #2: cabell's. this week his first police are finalizing security plans. hundreds of security personnel are being deployed for the presidential visit.
>> there's a large amount of cooperation which is also taking place between the israeli police and american security. and this is the most important visit that has taken place since president bush 's visit in 2009 .
>> but some israelis are upset that president obama has not been there sooner and questions his modern-day motives.
>> he's probably one of the most anti- israel presidents, certainly, in my lifetime. i see it not so much as a goodwill visit as a carrot and a stick situation, it's the stick. instead of coming to make order.
>> carrot and stick. joining me now is former new mexico governor and ambassador bill richardson. politico is pointing out 9 the trip talking about it this way, symbolic on steroids. is this the approach, carrot or the stick?
>> well, israel is most important in the middle east . the president hasn't been there. and the relationship with prime minister benjamin netanyahu has been frayed a little bit. so it's an important reinforcement, symbolic visit. but i think the president's also going to talk about a middle east peace package. about laying the groundwork for that. he's going to meet with the palestinians. he's going to meet with the king of jordan. push, i think, the israeli people in that direction. so it's more than symbolism. it's reinforcing a very strong relationship. we have to talk to israel about what's happening in syria, the iran situation. so on many fronts it's a useful, positive trip but no big break .
>> especially when it comes to geopolitical relationships here's what president obama had to say last week on his radio tv with his relationship with bebe netanyahu .
>> we've got a terrific relationship. he's very blunt with me on issues, and i'm very blunt with him about issues and we get stuff done.
>> blunt? the trip is going to highlight talks with netanyahu . but the speech in jerusalem, more to be done with visiting with mahmoud abbas as well. could this be obama helping to set up secretary of state john kerry for what you talk about is the larger issue of peace negotiations down the line?
>> yes, and i believe secretary kerry is very committed to a middle east peace process . i think it's long overdue. and i think the president's got to give him the political cover that secretary kerry would need. and key is going to be the israeli public. and the relationship with president netanyahu . you know you what say candid or business-like in diplomacy, it means that it's not a perfect relationship. but, you know, a lot of leaders, they develop this relationship. a better relationship, over time , and i think that's what the president is doing.
>> so as long as the business relationship can produce positive business results it's a good thing. let's talk about iran . the nuclear issue that's a top issue for president obama 's agenda. on friday, defense secretary chuck hagel said there are these plans to beef up missiles after north korea said it was going to be trying to have its preemptive nuclear strike against the u.s. or launch one. you recently visited north korea . kim jong -un. what do you make of their aspirations towards their nuclear program , and what it means for us here in the u.s.?
>> well i've been to north korea many times, but you still can't figure out what's going on with the new leader. the bad side is that he's making a lot of negative, provocative statements. the north koreans going out there and being very threatening. i think it makes sense for secretary hagel to say we're prepared. we're going to shift some of those interceptors to north korea . away from building in towards and against russia, which makes sense, which may help our american-russian relationship which is key in what we're trying to do with sanctions with iran . i think all in all, it makes sense with what the new secretary of defense is doing with north korea .
>> what do you make of the public appearance of dennis rodman going there with kim jong -un, going back, doing the sunday talkers saying he doesn't want war. wants to speak with the president?
>> well, you know, rodman got in to see kim jong -un, i couldn't. i went with eric schmidt at google. i don't think it was serious diplomacy. but i don't want to diminish rodman. it could be that the weight of this new leader is through nontraditional diplomacy. ngos.
>> former chicago bulls ?
>> well, i won't say a sports person , but, you know, we need to talk to this guy. and he, i think, is unfortunately heading in the wrong direction. so i hope some diplomacy emerges after we put on these sanctions which i support. after we say, look, there's going to be a cost for all of this bellicose rhetoric and nuclear tests and the missile launches. i think they're gearing up for a big negotiation, the north koreans , where they say, look, you want us to stop this stuff. we want food, fuel, sanctions.
>> some big grand bargain. i think that's what they're doing. but, you know, i've been there many times. i don't know what they're up to.
>> great to sigh in person.