Senator has long advocated direct talks as part of a sustained diplomatic campaign to enable negotiations to denuclearize North Korea


Trump admin. has yet to nominate a South Korean ambassador; chief diplomat to North Korea retired last week


Washington (March 8, 2018) – Senator Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.), Ranking Member of the East Asia Subcommittee of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, urged the Trump administration to take the prospect of direct negotiations with North Korea seriously, but with caution, after South Korean officials announced at the White House that President Trump would meet in person with Kim Jong Un by May. This would be the first meeting ever between the two nation’s leaders. 


In March 2017, Senator Markey called on President Trump to engage in direct negotiations with North Korea and to articulate a comprehensive strategy of diplomacy, sanctions, and enhanced regional military deterrence in light of Pyongyang’s acceleration of its nuclear and ballistic missile programs. He also has called for taking additional actions to increase pressure on the Kim regime to engage in constructive talks and counter its other nefarious activities, including cutting off crude oil flowing from China to North Korea, blocking the Kim regime from selling the slave labor of its people, eliminating Pyongyang’s illicit drug trade, halting its procurement of key rocket fuel chemicals, and restricting its use of the internet to evade sanctions through theft of cryptocurrencies to commit other cybercrimes.


“I urge President Trump to see these discussions with Kim Jong-un as the beginning of a long diplomatic process,” said Senator Markey. “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. And if the talks between the two leaders do not go well, it is not an excuse to justify military action for a situation that has no military solution. We have an obligation to American families, servicemembers, and our allies to say – unequivocally – that we did everything in our power to curb North Korea’s dangerous behavior without resorting to armed conflict.


“As we embark on one of the most crucial diplomatic negotiations in recent history, I urge President Trump to empower his diplomats to sustain momentum and provide expertise. We have a unique opportunity to use North Korea’s overtures to talk – and the leverage we have created through economic pressure – to finally make progress on de-escalating tensions and eventually denuclearizing the Korean Peninsula. Any negotiation with North Korea will only succeed if it draws upon the collective expertise, experience, and credibility of a fully resourced and staffed State Department. Diplomacy is a team sport, bigger than any individual, and I continue to call upon the Trump administration to take steps immediately to fill the key empty positions and rectify the resource issues to ensure that we are best positioned to tackle this key foreign policy priority.”


Earlier this month, Senator Markey called on the State Department to explain how it is able to implement North Korea-related diplomatic and sanctions enforcement efforts in light of drastic budget cuts, high-level position eliminations, and staffing reassignments.