This image made from video of a still image broadcast in a news bulletin by North Korea’s KRT on Wednesday, April 26, 2017, shows leader Kim Jong Un at what was said to be a “Combined Fire Demonstration” held to celebrate the 85th anniversary of the North Korean army, in Wonsan, North Korea. Photo credit: KRT via AP Video.
Top Republican senators advised the president on Monday to be cautious about meeting with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, after he said in an interview that he would be “honored” to meet with Kim “under the right circumstances.”
Arizona senator John McCain told THE WEEKLY STANDARD that Trump should meet with Kim only to nail down North Korea’s commitment to dismantle its nuclear weapons program.
“I don’t understand it. … The only time he should meet with him is to get the details of how North Korea will abandon their nuclear weapons program,” McCain told TWS. “If you meet with him prior to that, then you legitimize him.”
McCain said he had “no sense” of what the administration’s policy was about negotiating with North Korea.
Vice President Mike Pence indicated in April that the administration would not pursue direct negotiations. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson has pushed for economic and diplomatic pressure on North Korea, and has suggested openness to negotiations if the country moves toward denuclearization.
South Carolina senator Lindsey Graham cautioned against lending Kim credibility via the meeting, but said that talks could be the right fit under certain circumstances.
“Any time a president meets with someone you give them a certain amount of credibility. I don’t want to take it off the table but I’d be very cautious about that,” he told TWS. “But if they’ve got a construct where meeting helps deliver the message, then I’m all for it.”
Senate Foreign Relations Committee chairman Bob Corker said that North Korea would have to change its behavior for such a meeting to occur.
“If Kim Jong-un were to make some strides toward stopping what he’s doing, then sitting down and discussing that could well be the right thing to do,” he said. “But I don’t see him sitting down and doing that based on the current scenario, and I hope that’s not what he intended, and my sense is, it wasn’t.”
This post originally appeared on Weekly Standard