Members of Congress were cautious in response to the news that President Donald Trump will meet with Kim Jong Un to discuss North Korea’s nuclear program.
Sen. Lindsey Graham, a hawkish Republican who went from being a major Trump critic to ally, said Trump’s “strong stand” against the regime gives the United States the best opportunity for peace.
“A word of warning to North Korean President Kim Jong Un — the worst possible thing you can do is meet with President Trump in person and try to play him,” Graham said in a statement. “If you do that, it will be the end of you — and your regime.”
From the Vault: Trump’s Warning to North Korea
“If this happens, it would be a direct result of President Trump’s strong leadership and decisive action toward the brutal North Korean tyrant,” he said, contrasting that with Trump’s predecessor.
“President Obama received a Nobel Peace Prize in 2009 for being a charming presidential candidate,” Messer said in a statement. “If North Korea disarms, President Trump’s Nobel Peace Prize would be well deserved.”
But other Republicans expressed more caution and urged Trump to have certain terms and conditions.
Kim Jong Un must take concrete steps toward total denuclearization and President Trump must demand it. 2/3
I sent a letter to the President today urging him to continue his maximum pressure campaign & I do not think this announcement should change US resolve until DPRK takes concrete steps toward full denuclearization. You can read my full letter here: https://t.co/zPfjhOsZqc
Sen. James Lankford of Oklahoma, who earlier sent a letter with Gardner to continue pressure on North Korea, said he would “welcome any conversations that could lead to denuclearization.”
“I’m also acutely aware that North Korea has deceived the international community in the past,” he tweeted.
I welcome any conversations that could lead to denuclearization, but I’m also acutely aware that North Korea has deceived the international community in the past. We should maintain sanctions, and verify any ‘promise,’ while remaining open to potential paths to denuclearization. https://t.co/1f5OA02Iwx
Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Bob Corker, who clashed with Trump in the past, credited sanctions put in place by Congress with bringing North Korea to the table.
As the administration begins to work through the important details of such a meeting, we must continue to apply maximum pressure to the regime in Pyongyang. Skepticism and caution are critical as these discussions continue.
The committee’s ranking Democrat, Sen. Robert Menendez, said the goal of any meeting should be denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.
If President Trump is going to meet w/ Kim Jong Un, we must make sure there’s a clear advancement of US interests. The administration must be strategic enough to wield leverage w/ #NorthKorea & engage in clear-eyed, constructive diplomacy towards a denuclearized Korean Peninsula
— Senator Bob Menendez (@SenatorMenendez) March 9, 2018
Sen. Ed Markey of Massachusetts said the president should temper his trademark bellicose style.
“The President must abandon his penchant for unscripted remarks and bombastic rhetoric to avoid derailing this significant opportunity for progress,” he said.
But Rep. Rick Larsen, a Democrat from Washington, was more cynical, reacting to former Obama speechwriter Jon Favreau’s assertion that Trump hasn’t made any deals as president.