Local response to nuclear summit with Kim Jong Un

NASHUA – Members of New Hampshire’s congressional delegation responded with cautious optimism after the summit between President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.

U.S. Sen. Maggie Hassan, D-N.H., pointed out that the joint statement following the leaders’ meeting included no specific commitments or timetables for North Korea to do anything.

“It also appears that the U.S. gave up far more than we received by giving legitimacy to Kim Jong Un’s brutal dictatorship and agreeing to end joint military exercises with South Korea without anything more than vague assurances from North Korea,” Hassan said.

She said North Korea should agree to concrete, verifiable steps that are subject to international inspections. Hassan added that the U.S. should work closely with allies in the region and around the world, rather than alienate them, for diplomatic efforts with North Korea to be meaningful.

“We have heard much of this before from North Korea and have seen them repeatedly fail to live up to their commitments, and I join members of both parties in calling on the Trump administration to keep up pressure on North Korea as talks continue,” she said.

Nonetheless, Hassan said she is cautiously encouraged by pledges that the diplomatic process will continue.

“President Trump is appropriately pursuing diplomacy with Kim Jong Un, and I hope continued discussions will lead to concrete steps to denuclearize North Korea,” U.S. Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, D-N.H., said echoing Hassan’s thoughts.

She said progress toward reaching this goal requires cooperation and clear communication between, Trump, his administration and international partners. However, she voiced her concern regarding the administration’s actions and rhetoric directed at our closest allies.

“It’s especially troubling that President Trump’s pledge to end joint military exercises with the South Korean military seems to have come as a surprise to both South Korea and the Pentagon,” Shaheen said. “This concession also appears to have been made without a comparable concession from North Korea. During these delicate negotiations, the president must prioritize alliances and not lose sight of who Kim Jong Un is.”

She said Kim Jong Un’s record of violating human rights, as well as past retractions regarding denuclearization, must not be overlooked.

U.S. Rep. Annie Kuster, D-N.H., also shares the goal of a nuclear-free Korean Peninsula. She said the meeting of Trump and Kim Jong Un could be an important moment in the peace process.

“The details of any agreement moving forward will be key including the timelines, parameters, and importantly the verification mechanisms,” Kuster said. “I’m cautiously optimistic that we can continue to engage with North Korea to de-escalate tensions on the Korean Peninsula and reach an agreement that promotes the security of the U.S. and our allies, while maintaining economic and diplomatic pressure on the brutal Kim regime.”

Adam Urquhart can be reached at 594-1206 or aurquhart@nashuatelegraph.com.