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'Everybody Can Feel Much Safer': Trump Touts Summit Despite Critics

06-13-2018
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President Trump has returned from his historic summit with North Korea with an agreement in hand that many are calling a good first step, not only to advance denuclearization on the Korean Peninsula but also to begin to ease religious persecution.

The president is touting North Korea's "unwavering commitment to complete denuclearization," but he and Kim Jong Un said that further negotiations are needed to implement it. That ambiguity has his critics pouncing.

Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) said Tuesday, "What we have is very vague on specific frameworks. It maybe is a cause for hope but hardly confidence."

And Sen. Bob Corker, (R-TN) who chairs the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, also expressed skepticism. "I read the statement and it's difficult for me to see if something was actually agreed to or not," he said.

What caught many both at home and abroad by surprise – the president's commitment to call off joint military drills with South Korea. Some see it as an unnecessary concession but the president defended the move, even on his return Wednesday morning tweeting, "we save a fortune by not doing war games, as long as we are negotiating in good faith."

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) offered cautious support. "The message now is let's try to find a peaceful solution. The military exercises being put on hold is fine with me. It gives us space. What would not be fine with me is to withdraw our forces from South Korea as part of any deal with North Korea."

Religious freedom advocates see the summit as a definite step in the right direction. The president says he talked about Christians in North Korea "very strongly" with Kim Jong Un.

David Curry, the president of Open Doors USA, worked with the State Department leading up to the summit to promote that discussion. "I'm encouraged that they did bring it up," he told CBN News.

Evangelist and humanitarian Franklin Graham has delivered aid to North Korea for decades and traveled there four times. He said he expects the summit will help to ease the persecution of believers there. 

"No question I think this meeting with Kim Jong Un and President Trump is huge, and yes Christians are going to benefit in North Korea as a result of President Donald J. Trump," Graham told CBN News

The optics of the summit still have much of the world in awe – the two leaders side-by-side, shaking hands after decades of hostilities between the two nations.  

Some Democrats say the meeting was a mistake. Sen. Chris Coons (D-DE) said, "This was a big win for Kim Jong Un of North Korea. He got what his father and grandfather never got – a meeting as equals on the world stage with the United States." 

But Democratic pollster Pat Caddell says the pictures are fantastic and will bump up the president's ratings which are key to the mid-term elections.

"This cannot hurt him," Caddell said Tuesday, "I think the American people would like to see this resolved. It would be in the interest of peace and it would be to everyone's benefit."

The president clearly intends to ride the momentum tweeting on his arrival back home: "everybody can now feel much safer than the day I took office."

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