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'Skeptical But Hopeful': Lawmakers Sound Off on Historic Trump-Kim Summit

06-12-2018

WASHINGTON – Senators and congressmen are weighing in on this week's historic meeting in Singapore between President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.

Sen. Rob Portman (R-OH) said in a statement he remains "skeptical but hopeful that this new dialogue can translate into meaningful progress."

Portman joined the parents of Cincinnati resident Otto Warmbier last year when they welcomed their son home from North Korea after the regime held him prisoner in the country for 18 months. Warmbier fell into a coma while incarcerated in the country and died within days of returning to the US.

Portman says Otto's death is a "constant reminder to me about the evil nature of this regime."

"I have long called for a direct dialogue between our two countries," continued Portman. "I have also supported the summit between President Trump and Kim Jong Un with the goal of achieving a peaceful solution that includes North Korea giving up its nuclear weapons." 

"I am hopeful that the negotiations can achieve these goals," he said. "In the past, however, North Korea has used talks to stall while continuing its nuclear and missile programs, and empty promises cannot buy any more time."   

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R -SC) echoed his colleagues' cautious optimism and says he is skeptical of the president's claims that North Korea has "given up a tremendous amount" with the proposed denuclearization agreement. 

"This is an agreement in principle," Graham told CBS's "This Morning." "This is a historic opportunity to end the Korean War – to get North Korea to give up their weapons and missiles that threaten us and the world in return for security guarantees and prosperity." 

"I hope it happens, but there is no agreement... if there is an agreement, it must come to Congress for our approval," he said.

"[Kim Jong Un] kills his own people in large numbers," continued Graham. "He killed Otto Warmbier. He is a very bad guy. But I'm willing to deal with him on one condition: that we end this madness in North Korea."

But Democrats offered much harsher criticism of the president's meeting with the North Korean leader, taking particular issue with the president referring to the dictator as a "very talented man" who "loves his country very much."

House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) said in a statement she respects serious diplomatic efforts for nuclear non-proliferation, but does not believe these talks achieved that.

"Apparently, the president handed Kim Jong Un concessions in exchange for vague promises that do not approach a clear and comprehensive pathway to denuclearization and non-proliferation," said Pelosi.

President Trump called Kim a worthy negotiator following the summit and says he plans to invite him to the White House in the near future. 

"This was a big win for Kim Jong Un of North Korea," said Sen. Chris Coons, (D-DE). "North Korea got what they’ve been trying to achieve for decades, the legitimacy of being invited to the White House. The United States got nothing in terms of a clear path towards verifying an agreement towards denuclearization."

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