House Dems encourage 'incremental progress' at Trump-Kim summit

A group of 15 House Democrats is pushing President TrumpDonald John Trump20 weeks out from midterms, Dems and GOP brace for surprises Sessions responds to Nazi comparisons: 'They were keeping the Jews from leaving' Kim Jong Un to visit Beijing this week MORE not to make “unrealistic” demands of North Korea ahead of his highly anticipated summit with leader Kim Jong Un.

“We are encouraged by your efforts to pursue direct diplomacy with North Korea with the dual goals of resolving the nearly seven-decade-long conflict and achieving the denuclearization of the Korean peninsula,” the Democrats wrote in a letter to Trump on Monday.

“We remain concerned that some, from both parties and inside and outside of your administration, seek to scuttle progress by attempting to limit the parameters of the talks, including by insisting on full and immediate denuclearization or other unrealistic commitments by North Korea at an early date.”

The letter was organized by Rep. Ro KhannaRohit (Ro) KhannaThe Hill's Morning Report — Sponsored by PhRMA — Outcry raises pressure on GOP for immigration fix Overnight Defense: Trump, Kim poised for historic summit | Trump blasts 'haters and losers' hours before meeting | Defense bill to include ZTE penalties | Lawmakers sound alarm over 'catastrophic' Yemen offensive Lawmakers circulate 'urgent call' for Mattis to prevent 'catastrophic' Yemen offensive MORE (D-Calif.), whose office framed it as a rebuttal to one sent last week by top Democrats in the Senate.

The Senate letter, led by Senate Minority Leader Charles SchumerCharles (Chuck) Ellis SchumerDems must stop picking foxes to guard the financial hen house Schumer warns 'House moderates' against immigration compromise bill Trump knocks Schumer, touts North Korea summit in early morning tweet MORE (D-N.Y.) and Senate Foreign Relations Committee ranking member Bob MenendezRobert (Bob) MenendezSchumer: Obama 'very amenable' to helping Senate Dems in midterms The Hill's Morning Report: Can Trump close the deal with North Korea? Senate must save itself by confirming Mike Pompeo MORE (D-N.J.), outlined five principles they want a North Korea deal to meet before they will support lifting sanctions, including the dismantlement and removal of all nuclear, biological and chemical weapons.

Trump is set to meet with Kim on Tuesday morning in Singapore, Monday night Washington time.

It’s unclear what the outcome of the meeting will be, as working-level negotiations continued down to the wire. Trump has described Tuesday’s meeting as the start of a process and meant for the two leaders to get to know each other.

In their letter, the House Democrats encouraged “incremental progress” leading to “phased denuclearization” of the Korean Peninsula.

“Among the positive steps that you can commit to right away are: pledges or agreements to formally end the 68-year war, ending the practice of U.S.-[South Korean] ‘decapitation’ military exercises, and support for important cooperative efforts such as vital humanitarian assistance, parliamentarian dialogue and exchanges, reunions between Koreans and Korean American families, and the repatriation of U.S. service member remains,” they wrote.

The lawmakers also stressed that while they “stand ready” to support any progress made at the talks, they will “vehemently oppose” a return to military threats should the talks break down.

“We once again must remind you that in the unfortunate event of a setback or collapse in talks, you do not have the authority under the U.S. Constitution or U.S. law to strike North Korea,” they wrote. “In the event talks break down, the U.S. deterrence that was successful in avoiding nuclear war with the [Soviet Union] for decades and has been successful with North Korea for years, remains the only policy for which you have constitutional authority.”