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US Lawmakers React to Suggested Talks with North Korea

  • Michael Bowman

US Senator Richard Durbin is seen in a March 1, 2013, file photo.

US Senator Richard Durbin is seen in a March 1, 2013, file photo.

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry’s suggestion of negotiations with North Korea has provoked a mixed reaction from U.S. lawmakers.

Speaking in Tokyo Sunday, Secretary Kerry reiterated America’s longstanding commitment to Japan’s defense. At a news conference with his Japanese counterpart, Fumio Kishada, Kerry urged dialogue with Pyongyang.

“Hopefully, North Korea will hear our words, and recognize that for the future of its people and for the future stability in the region, as well as on the [Korean] peninsula itself, there is a clear course of action that they are invited to take. And they will find in us ready partners to negotiate in good faith to resolve this issue.”

In Washington, Democratic Senator Richard Durbin applauded the Obama administration’s offer of negotiations.

“I think Secretary Kerry has it right. We are willing to step forward, but we want to see some positive measures from the North Koreans that bring down this harsh and hot rhetoric.”

Speaking on the Fox News Sunday television program, Durbin said efforts to defuse tensions on the Korean peninsula would be strengthened by more robust efforts from China, North Korea’s main economic partner.

“It is time for you [China] to step up and show some leadership in this region of the world. We are prepared to work toward a common goal of peace. But we need the Chinese to tell the North Koreans that if they want to continue this escalation of rhetoric, it is at the expense of the safety of this world as well as their own economy.”

Some U.S. lawmakers are wary of possible negotiations with North Korea. Also appearing on Fox News Sunday, Republican Senator John Cornyn said the United States must not reward Pyongyang’s belligerence.

“I am not for paying an unhinged leader like Kim Jong-un ransom in order for him to tone down his rhetoric. It is like a bad movie. We keep seeing the re-runs.”

Monday, Kerry meets with Japan’s prime minister. Japan is within range of North Korean missiles.
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