Senators to Trump: Keep pressure on North Korea while exploring talks

Senators to Trump: Keep pressure on North Korea while exploring talks
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Six Republicans on the Senate Foreign Relations and Armed Services Committees are urging President TrumpDonald John TrumpJimmy Fallon responds to Trump: I'll donate to pro-immigrant nonprofit in his name South Carolina GOP candidate expected to make full recovery after car accident Official: US to present North Korea with timeline, 'specific asks' MORE to continue the so-called maximum pressure campaign against North Korea as the possibility of talks is explored.

“Mr. President, when it comes to the North Korean regime, we must verify before we trust,” the senators wrote in a letter to Trump on Thursday. “While we must take any credible opportunity to talk with Pyongyang about denuclearization, we must also never forget that the DPRK continues to represent a grave threat to the United States, our allies and global peace and stability.

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“We ask that you respond to Congress in a timely manner regarding the administration’s strategy to engage the DPRK and your plan for a robust implementation of the maximum pressure campaign against this heinous regime.”

The letter was signed by Republican Sens. Cory GardnerCory Scott GardnerSenate moving ahead with border bill, despite Trump 13 GOP senators ask administration to pause separation of immigrant families Sessions floats federal law that would protect states that decriminalize marijuana MORE (Colo.), James InhofeJames (Jim) Mountain InhofeOvernight Defense: Defense spending bill amendments target hot-button issues | Space Force already facing hurdles | Senators voice 'deep' concerns at using military lawyers on immigration cases Obstacles to Trump's 'Space Force' could keep proposal grounded for now The Hill's Morning Report — Sponsored by PhRMA — Trump caves under immense pressure — what now? MORE (Okla.), James Risch (Idaho), Marco RubioMarco Antonio RubioNew fears over Chinese espionage grip Washington Rubio heckled by protestors outside immigration detention facility Bill to protect work licenses of student loan debtors is welcome development MORE (Fla.), Ron JohnsonRonald (Ron) Harold JohnsonGOP senator: Obama administration’s track record on reuniting families 'wasn't particularly good either' Senate probes FBI's heavy-handed use of redactions to obstruct congressional investigators Hillicon Valley: DHS gets new cyber chief | White House warns lawmakers not to block ZTE deal | White nationalists find home on Google Plus | Comcast outbids Disney for Fox | Anticipation builds for report on FBI Clinton probe MORE (Wis.), and Todd YoungTodd Christopher YoungGOP senators introduce bill to prevent family separations at border The Hill's Morning Report — Trump: `A very great moment in the history of the world’ Todd Young in talks about chairing Senate GOP campaign arm MORE (Ind.).

The DPRK is an acronym for North Korea's formal name, the Democratic People's Republic of Korea.

The letter comes as a high-level delegation from South Korea is in Washington to brief the Trump administration on their meeting with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.

Earlier in the week, a South Korean delegation traveled to Pyongyang and became the first South Korean officials to meet with Kim since he took power in 2011.

On Tuesday, the South Korean envoys announced that Kim told them he is willing to begin negotiations with the United States on abandoning nuclear weapons and that he would suspend all nuclear and missile tests while engaged in talks.

The Trump administration and lawmakers greeted the offer cautiously, expressing both hope that talks can happen and skepticism at Kim’s sincerity.

In their letter, the senators said they were “encouraged” by the South Korean delegation’s report out of the meeting in Pyongyang.

But they urged Trump to also impose more unilateral sanctions on North Korea and conduct regularly scheduled military exercises with allies in the region.

“We believe that the U.S.-led sanctions campaign against the DPRK is essential to building the necessary leverage to incentivize the regime to peacefully relinquish its weapons of mass destruction,” they wrote. “We must continue to close every avenue of commercial activity with the regime, including by targeting businesses, financial institutions, and third-country nationals for secondary sanctions. These businesses must know that the cost of doing business with the DPRK is global financial isolation.”

Military options also have to remain on the table, they added.

“The DPRK must also know that while the United States and its partners are seeking to solve this crisis peacefully, we will not hesitate to defend the U.S. homeland, our troops in the region, and our treaty allies, with overwhelming military force,” they wrote. “The military option must remain on the table, it must be robust, and DPRK must be made fully aware of the consequences of their actions.”