- The Washington Times - Friday, March 9, 2018

Sen. Richard Blumenthal said Friday President Trump’s plan to sit down with North Korea dictator Kim Jong-un should be considered a “meeting” and not a “negotiation” over its nuclear program.

The Connecticut Democrat said the move toward diplomacy is a welcomed sign following Mr. Trump’s vow to bring “fire and the fury” if North Korea continues to threaten the United States.

“There is a lot of reasons for skepticism,” Mr. Blumenthal said. “As a member of the Armed Service Committee, there is no sign that we’ve seen that North Korea is going to simply walk away from its nuclear program or abandon its missiles or nuclear warheads.”

On Thursday, Mr. Trump said the pressure his administration put on North Korea through a new round of economic sanctions last month led Mr. Kim to agree to talks about abandoning its nuclear arsenal and halting its nuclear and missile tests.

Mr. Blumenthal, though, was reluctant to give Mr. Trump much credit.

“I give President Trump credit for yielding to the intense pressure from Congress and elsewhere, including myself, [who were] saying sanctions have to be applied to coal and textiles and most important banks, financial transactions, and China has to be enlisted in this process,” he said. “Only reluctantly has he imposed those sanctions, and part of the problem is he has hallowed out the State Department. There is no diplomatic team with the expertise and skill that needs to be brought to bear in these negotiations.”

“The best way to view it is as a meeting, not a negotiation,” Mr. Blumenthal said.

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