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Hirono, Duckworth: Trump-Kim Talks a Step in Right Direction But Caution Needed

WASHINGTON – Sen. Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii) released the following statement Thursday after the South Korean government announced that President Trump will meet with Kim Jong Un:

Sens. Mazie Hirono and Tammy Duckworth

“I have consistently called for a diplomatic process to de-escalate tensions on the Korean Peninsula. Tonight’s announcement is an encouraging sign, but the president has left the State Department without the full complement of diplomatic personnel necessary for these talks to be successful. I renew my call for the president to appoint an American ambassador to South Korea and a new top diplomat for North Korea issues as soon as possible.”

In a January Senate Armed Services Committee hearing, Hirono questioned experts on the Korean Peninsula on the importance of naming an ambassador to South Korea. Last year, Hirono wrote to Trump to urge him to fill the ambassadorship, and several other positions that are critical to finding a diplomatic solution to de-escalate tensions with North Korea.

Sen. Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.) said, “There is no realistic military solution to the DPRK [Democratic People’s Republic of Korea] that does not involve catastrophic levels of casualties, destruction and global economic turmoil. I welcome the president’s new embrace of diplomacy over his prior reckless bluster.

“However, I would strongly urge the Administration to remember that Kim Jong Un, like his father and grandfather before him, have long sought a visit from the president of the United States to enhance their own prestige and justify their dangerous pursuit of nuclear weapons. Accepting an invitation carries tremendous risk.

“Now more than ever, the president must empower our diplomats and nuclear non-proliferation experts to work with our allies to carefully coordinate our efforts in seeking a pathway towards denuclearization of North Korea. He can start by nominating a qualified candidate for the position of U.S. ambassador to the ROK [Republic of Korea].”

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