WILKES-BARRE — U.S. Rep. Lou Barletta Tuesday said the historic summit between President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un in Singapore will have implications for the entire world.
Barletta, R-Hazleton, said the summit was a successful first step toward denuclearizing North Korea and bringing peace to the Korean peninsula.
“President Trump is making historic headway with North Korea,” Barletta said. “This was a major first step in a long process. Americans should be proud with this first step and stand behind the president as he negotiates one of the most difficult foreign policy dilemmas in American history.”
The details of how and when North Korea would denuclearize appear yet to be determined, as are the nature of the unspecified “protections” Trump is pledging to Kim and his government.
Trump and Kim had come together for an unprecedented U.S.-North Korea meeting that seemed unthinkable months earlier when the two nations traded insults and nuclear threats. The gathering of the two unpredictable leaders marked a striking gamble by the American president to grant Kim long-sought recognition on the world stage in hopes of ending the North’s nuclear program.
Both leaders expressed optimism throughout roughly five hours of talks, with Trump thanking Kim afterward “for taking the first bold step toward a bright new future for his people.” Kim, for his part, said the leaders had “decided to leave the past behind” and promised: “The world will see a major change.”
“Only a month ago, Kim Jong-un was threatening to send missiles into Guam,” Barletta said. “And last night he and Trump sat down for a historic peace meeting.”
Barletta said only Trump could have done accomplished this.
“The president is a tough negotiator,” Barletta said. “North Korea knew he meant business.”
Barletta said Trump’s deal with North Korea is much different than the one negotiated by then President Barack Obama with Iran.
“That agreement removed the sanctions that were working and gave Iran $100 billion cash and a green light toward a nuclear weapon within 10 years,” Barletta said. “Iran also wrote its own procedure — they approved when we could inspect, where and what time. I don’t believe North Korea will get a deal like that from President Trump.”
Casey weighs in
U.S. Sen. Bob Casey, D-Scranton, against whom Barletta is running this fall, had mixed reactions to the meeting.
“North Korea’s nuclear weapons program represents a grave threat to our national security and that of our allies. I remain optimistic that (Tuesday’s) summit in Singapore may be a first step toward achieving a robust and verifiable nuclear agreement,” Casey said.
“However, I am concerned by the President’s statement that he would end joint military exercises with South Korea. It would be a mistake to turn our backs on our regional allies,” Casey added.
“The Kim regime is a serial abuser of human rights. I urge President Trump and Secretary Pompeo to keep these concerns in mind and to implement a robust diplomatic strategy that keeps America safe,” the senator concluded.
U.S. Rep. Tom Marino, R-Lycoming Township, applauded Trump for taking this first step in efforts for diplomacy with North Korea.
“While more conversations are needed to detail the process, the initial agreement reached to completely denuclearize the Korean peninsula is a profound step towards peace,” Marino said.
“Since North Korea has shown time and again that they cannot be trusted, President Trump and Secretary of State Pompeo must remain vigilant and ensure complete and total verification of denuclearization,” Marino added. “Our allies in this region, along with the rest of the world, should take away a sense of hope for a solution to a tenuous situation that has been enduring for 61 years.”
Reach Bill O’Boyle at 570-991-6118 or on Twitter @TLBillOBoyle. The Associated Press contributed to this story.