Sunday 18 November 2018

Capitol Hill leaders not yet hailing 'reality show' talks

Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell. Photo: Getty Images
Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell. Photo: Getty Images

Laurie Kellman

Republican and Democratic leaders weren't quite celebrating US President Donald Trump's historic meeting yesterday with North Korea's Kim Jong-un, saying the initial agreement they struck won't mean much until the North completely denuclearises.

Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell called the meeting a "major first step" in US-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," Mr 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, "Only time will tell if North Korea is serious this time...we must continue to apply maximum economic pressure."

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

"President Trump has granted a brutal and repressive dictatorship the international legitimacy it has long craved," Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer said.

He pointed out that the Trump-Kim agreement does not define what denuclearisation would mean.

If nothing else happens, Mr Schumer said, the meeting amounts to "purely a reality show summit".

The first US responses to the dramatic meeting came as Trump and Kim headed home from Singapore. But even as he toasted the historic meeting, Mr Trump faced questions about what he actually won and whether he gave away too much.

Not included, for example, was Secretary of State Mike Pompeo's language about the "complete, verifiable, and irreversible denuclearisation of the Korean peninsula".

Republican senator Marco Rubio took a harsh stance.

"While I know @potus is trying to butter him up to get a good deal, #KJU is NOT a talented guy," Mr 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."

© Associated Press

Irish Independent

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