‘Discussions Invite Progress': Mass. Officials Encourage Diplomacy With North Korea

Lawmakers in New England are urging Donald Trump to meet diplomatically with North Korea's leader after Kim Jong Un invited him to the table.

The White House and South Korean officials announced Thursday that Kim had sent a letter asking the U.S. president to meet to negotiate an end to North Korea's nuclear weapons program, and that Trump had agreed to do so. Kim said he's committed to "denuclearization" and has promised to refrain from missile tests, South Korean National Security Director Chung Eui-yong said.

"Kim Jong Un talked about denuclearization with the South Korean Representatives, not just a freeze," Trump tweeted after the announcement. "Great progress being made but sanctions will remain until an agreement is reached. Meeting being planned!"

"I urge [President Trump] to see these discussions with Kim Jong Un as the beginning of a long diplomatic process," Sen. Ed Markey of Massachusetts said in a statement. "This meeting is just the beginning of talks between the nations, not a conclusion. The president must abandon his penchant for unscripted remarks and bombastic rhetoric to avoid derailing this significant opportunity for progress."

Markey added that if the talks don't go well, "it is not an excuse to justify military action for a situation that has no military solution."

"Discussions invite progress," Rep. Bill Keating of Massachusetts said in a statement. "The U.S. and our allies must be clear in our goal of denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula, which includes verification. It is clear sanctions are having positive effects and thus imperative these sanctions continue until concrete results are in place."

A Tufts University professor, however, is warning Americans not to get too excited.

"Kim Jong Un is taking a page out of his father's 2000 playbook," Sung-Yoon Lee said. "Kim Jong Il, the father of the current leader, sent his second highest military man to Washington. And three weeks later, U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright was hosting Kim Jong Il in Pyongyang."

So why is this meeting between two unpredictable leaders happening now, after months of blustering?

"The sanctions that have been enforced over the past year are biting," the professor said, adding that it could be a potential step back for the U.S. if it doesn't play its cards right. "Make some basic demands. Dismantle the gulags, the political concentration camps, start to dismantle your nuclear weapons programs."

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