(WASHINGTON, D.C.) – President Trump’s summit with North Korea is drawing cautious reviews from some members of Indiana’s congressional delegation.
Democrat Senator Joe Donnelly says the progress toward ending the nuclear threat from North Korea is “laudable,” but says he’s concerned about the halt to U.S. military exercises with South Korea. He calls those exercises “central” to assuring South Korea and other allies in the region of their security, and says he’s waiting to hear more details from the administration.
Republican Senator Todd Young says suspending the exercises is a minor and appropriate good-faith gesture to North Korea. He says if North Korea doesn’t reciprocate, the exercises can always be reinstated, along with economic and diplomatic pressure.
Republican Congressman Jim Banks echoes Trump’s description of the exercises as “provocative,” and says their main purpose is to put North Korea on notice that the U.S. has its eyes on the region.
But Banks says he’s skeptical of the overall outcome of the summit, with North Korea promising to move toward terminating its nuclear program. He says North Korea signed similarly-worded pledges during the administrations of both Presidents Bush, then broke its word.
Banks and the two senators say there will have to be strong verification that North Korea is keeping its commitments. And all three emphasize those commitments still need to be fleshed out with specifics.
Banks and Young dismiss criticism from some observers on both sides of the aisle that the U.S. shouldn’t have granted North Korea legitimacy by placing it on an equal footing with the U.S. Young notes since North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un is the sole decisionmaker in North Korea, the only hope of accomplishing denuclearization is to get his agreement.
Banks says the U.S. has to recognize that North Korea has already demonstrated nuclear capability, and praises Trump for doing what it takes to get Kim to the bargaining table in the first place. He says that capability is an important difference between the North Korea talks and the Obama administration deal with Iran, which Banks and Trump have both criticized. Banks notes Iran doesn’t yet have nuclear missiles, and argues the now-disavowed deal didn’t do enough to shunt them off the path to getting them.
Indiana Sens. Todd Young (R, second from left) and Joe Donnelly (D) (Photo: Eric Berman/WIBC)