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 TrumpSunday shows preview: Trump sells U.N. reorganizing and Kavanaugh allegations dominate Ex-Trump staffer out at CNN amid “false and defamatory accusations” Democrats opposed to Pelosi lack challenger to topple her 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 GardnerSome employees' personal data revealed in State Department email breach: report Colorado governor sets up federal PAC before potential 2020 campaign Hillicon Valley: Trump signs off on sanctions for election meddlers | Russian hacker pleads guilty over botnet | Reddit bans QAnon forum | FCC delays review of T-Mobile, Sprint merger | EU approves controversial copyright law MORE (Colo.), James InhofeJames (Jim) Mountain InhofePentagon releases report on sexual assault risk Trump privately calls Mattis ‘Moderate Dog’: report Cruz gets help from Senate GOP in face of serious challenge from O’Rourke MORE (Okla.), James Risch (Idaho), Marco RubioMarco Antonio RubioNikki Haley: New York Times ‘knew the facts’ about curtains and still released story March For Our Lives founder leaves group, says he regrets trying to 'embarrass' Rubio Rubio unloads on Turkish chef for 'feasting' Venezuela's Maduro: 'I got pissed' MORE (Fla.), Ron JohnsonRonald (Ron) Harold JohnsonKavanaugh, accuser to testify publicly on Monday Kavanaugh furor intensifies as calls for new testimony grow House panel advances DHS cyber vulnerabilities bills MORE (Wis.), and Todd YoungTodd Christopher YoungOvernight Health Care: Senators target surprise medical bills | Group looks to allow Medicaid funds for substance abuse programs | FDA launches anti-vaping campaign for teens Bipartisan senators unveil proposal to crack down on surprise medical bills Dems seek ways to block Trump support for Saudi-led coalition in Yemen 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.”