Washington (September 30, 2017) -- Senator Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.), top Democrat on the East Asia, the Pacific, and International Cybersecurity Subcommittee of the Foreign Relations Committee, released the following statement after The New York Times reported that Secretary Rex Tillerson had confirmed the United States is in direct diplomatic communication with North Korea.

“After months of calling for such talks, I am encouraged by Secretary Tillerson’s statement that the United States has opened direct lines of communication with North Korea," said Senator Markey.  "I look forward to classified briefings on their status and prospects."

“An open channel of communication is necessary, but not sufficient. The administration must stop undermining this critical diplomatic step with President Trump's escalatory rhetoric and tweets toward North Korea.  Now is the time for North Korea to hear the consistent, unified message both in public and in private that the United States stands ready to resolve our differences peacefully in order to de-escalate tensions and reduce the risk of inadvertent war. The administration now must work toward an interim agreement for Pyongyang to refrain from testing nuclear weapons and the missiles that deliver them in exchange for security assurances.  Then, we can move on to meaningful negotiations that ultimately denuclearize the Korean Peninsula.  The Trump administration must not waste this important opportunity to use sustained diplomacy, backed by sanctions and strong, steady military deterrence, we can achieve these goals.”

In August, Senator Markey led a Congressional delegation to Seoul, Tokyo, and the North Korea-China border, where it was the first foreign group to receive a briefing from Chinese customs officials who enforce sanctions at the border.