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

A group of 15 House Democrats is pushing President TrumpDonald John TrumpDemocrats slide in battle for Senate Trump believes Kushner relationship with Saudi crown prince a liability: report Christine Blasey Ford to be honored by Palo Alto City Council 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) KhannaTech giant faces crucial decision over Saudi ties GOP leaders hesitant to challenge Trump on Saudi Arabia Silicon Valley tested by Saudi crisis 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 SchumerThe Hill's Morning Report — Presented by the Coalition for Affordable Prescription Drugs — Health care a top policy message in fall campaigns McConnell says deficits 'not a Republican problem' Medicare for All is disastrous for American seniors and taxpayers MORE (D-N.Y.) and Senate Foreign Relations Committee ranking member Bob MenendezRobert (Bob) MenendezTrump lowers refugee goal to 30,000, he must meet it Blame Senate, not FBI, for Kavanaugh travesty Dems urge tech companies to remove 3D-gun blueprints 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.”