Capi­tol Hill not toast­ing Trump-Kim sum­mit yet

Lead­ers stress the need for con­crete, ver­i­fi­able change

Baltimore Sun - - NATION & WORLD - By Lau­rie Kell­man

WASH­ING­TON — Repub­li­can and Demo­cratic lead­ers aren’t quite cel­e­brat­ing Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump’s historic meet­ing Tues­day with North Korea’s Kim Jong Un, say­ing the ini­tial agree­ment they struck won’t mean much un­less the North com­pletely de­nu­cle­arizes.

Sen­ate Repub­li­can leader Mitch Mc­Connell called the meet­ing a “ma­jor first step,” in U.S.-North Korea re­la­tions, but not a de­ci­sive one if North Korea does not fol­low through.

“The next steps in ne­go­ti­a­tions will test whether we can get to a ver­i­fi­able deal,” Mc­Connell said on the Sen­ate floor. He added, “We and our al­lies must be pre­pared to re­store the pol­icy of max­i­mum pres­sure.”

That was echoed by House Speaker Paul Ryan, who said, “There is only one ac­cept­able fi­nal out­come: com­plete, ver­i­fi­able, ir­re­versible de­nu­cle­ariza­tion.”

Trump didn’t of­fer much as­sur­ance on the ques­tion of how to con­firm that North Korea had com­plied with any deal.

“We’re go­ing to have to check it and we will check it,” the pres­i­dent said aboard Air Force One.

That didn’t give law­mak­ers much con­fi­dence. They spent much of Tues­day say­ing they needed more in­for­ma­tion on what, ex­actly, hap­pened at the historic meet­ing — and ques­tion­ing whether Trump gave away too much.

Sen. James Risch, the Idaho Repub­li­can who chairs the Sen­ate Na­tional Se­cu­rity Work­ing Group, said Mon­day that ex­pects any treaty-like agree­ment Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tenn., right, ex­pressed reser­va­tions about what got ac­com­plished at Tues­day’s sum­mit. to be sub­mit­ted to the Sen­ate. Risch said the White House has been in agree­ment on that.

The Con­sti­tu­tion says pres­i­dents have the power “by and with the ad­vice and con­sent of the Sen­ate, to make treaties,” as long as two-thirds of the sen­a­tors present agree.

But Tues­day’s an­nounce­ment in Sin­ga­pore was framed as a joint state­ment be­tween the lead­ers, not a treaty. Trump said ne­go­tia­tors would work out the de­tails.

Law­mak­ers of both par­ties said they pre­ferred diplo­macy to the bat­tle-bytweet in which Trump and Kim seemed to threaten nu­clear war. But they ques­tioned what ex­actly hap­pened at their face-to-face meet­ing.

“It is dif­fi­cult to de­ter­mine what of con­crete na­ture has oc­curred,” said Sen­ate For­eign Re­la­tions Com­mit­tee Chair­man Bob Corker, R-Tenn.

Democrats were openly skep­ti­cal, say­ing Trump had al­ready given up some Amer­i­can lever­age by com­mit­ting to halt­ing U.S. mil­i­tary ex­er­cises with treaty ally South Korea.

“Pres­i­dent Trump has granted a bru­tal and re­pres­sive dic­ta­tor­ship the in­ter­na­tional le­git­i­macy it has long craved,” Sen­ate Demo- cratic l eader Chuck Schumer said. He pointed out that the Trump-Kim agree­ment does not de­fine what de­nu­cle­ariza­tion would mean. If noth­ing else happens, Schumer said the meet­ing amounts to “a re­al­ity show sum­mit.”

The first U.S. re­sponses to the dra­matic meet­ing came as Trump and Kim headed home.

Not in­cluded in the agree­ment was Sec­re­tary of State Mike Pom­peo’s lan­guage that the ul­ti­mate goal was the “com­plete, ver­i­fi­able, and ir­re­versible de­nu­cle­ariza­tion of the Korean penin­sula.”

And Kim of­fered no solid prom­ises to aban­don his hard-won nu­clear ar­se­nal any time soon.

Es­pe­cially for Repub­li­cans, Trump’s meet­ing with Kim seemed com­pli­cated given the his­tory of North Korea’s in­tran­si­gence and dis­tress­ing hu­man rights record.

At least one Repub­li­can, Sen. Marco Ru­bio, R-Fla., took a harsher stance.

“While I know #po­tus is try­ing to but­ter him up to get a good deal, #KJU is NOT a tal­ented guy,” Ru­bio tweeted. “He in­her­ited the fam­ily busi­ness from his dad & grand­fa­ther. He is a to­tal weirdo who would not be elected as­sis­tant dog catcher in any democ­racy.”

J. SCOTT APPLEWHITE/AP

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