The U.S. House of Representatives has approved a resolution condemning "hostile behavior" by North Korea and giving full support to the Obama administration in dealing with Pyongyang. A symbolic "sense of Congress" resolution also reaffirms the U.S. strategic alliance with South Korea, whose president will meet with members of Congress on Tuesday.
The resolution calls on North Korea to immediately stop "hostile rhetoric and activity" toward South Korea, and engage in what it calls mutual dialogue to enhance inter-Korean relations.
Listing a series of actions by Pyongyang in recent months and years, including nuclear weapons tests and ballistic missile launches, lawmakers said North Korea's actions threaten peace and stability in Northeast Asia and beyond.
Impatience and concern was reflected in remarks by the sponsor of the resolution, Republican Peter King, who said the resolution places Congress on record in support of steps the Obama administration must take to respond to "provocative and aggressive" actions by Pyongyang . . .
"To stand up to this really blatant aggression, I believe, by North Korea and [send] a message to Kim Jong Il -- whether it is him or his son, no matter who ends up controlling and calling the shots in North Korea -- that it will be met with concerted action from the U.S, and also call on countries such as China to start doing what they should be doing and to reassure our allies such as Japan and Taiwan that the U.S. will do all it can to prevent and stop North Korea from becoming a nuclear power," he said.
While saying that the United States must continue efforts at constructive dialogue, King said "everything should be on the table" regarding potential responses to actions by Pyongyang that might create a situation in Asia that could "spiral out of control."
Stating that North Korea is will not achieve a different relationship with the United States "while insulting and refusing dialogue with [South Korea]," the resolution says Pyongyang has refused proposals from Seoul for mutual dialogue, and refused to fully implement six-party agreements on denuclearization.
Democrat Eni Faleomavaega heads the House Subcommittee on Asia, the Pacific, and Global Environment. "These startling events have unquestionably precipitated the necessity of unified congressional response to North Korea's hostile acts, while also sending a message of strong solidarity and support to our close friend and ally, the Republic of Korea," he said.
Saying North Korea has "dropped the pretense" of being willing to negotiate away its nuclear program, Republican Representative Ed Royce asserted that a resolution recently approved by the U.N. Security Council was a "watered down response" to North Korean actions.
The United States, added Royce, must take even stronger actions to isolate the communist state and block any new proliferation activities. "Frankly, we have come to a conclusion. And the conclusion for me, and I have followed this issue for many years, is that the U.S. can achieve an awful lot by deploying measures to further undercut North Korea's economy and to target its proliferation activities," he said.
House lawmakers called on North Korea to verifiably abandon all of its nuclear weapons and existing nuclear programs, and return to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.
They urged Pyongyang to comply fully with Resolution 1718, which was approved by the U.N. Security Council in 2006 after North Korea's first nuclear test and called on Pyongyang to refrain from further tests and missile launches.
Approval of the resolution comes ahead of talks at the White House on Tuesday between visiting South Korean President Lee Myung-bak and President Barack Obama.
The South Korean leader will go to Capitol Hill on Tuesday for meetings with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and other members of Congress.