February 27, 2018

Menendez Reacts to Sudden Resignation of Lead State Dept. North Korea Negotiator

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Bob Menendez (D-NJ), Ranking Member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, released the following statement Tuesday upon the news that Ambassador Joe Yun, the lead State Department official responsible for North Korea negotiations, is resigning:

“Today's announcement that Ambassador Joe Yun, our top North Korea diplomat, is resigning is yet another setback in the Trump Administration's chaotic and uneven approach to diplomacy in the Korean peninsula and to the overall institutional integrity of the State Department. I want to thank Ambassador Yun for his years of service to our nation, pursuing America's interests and advancing our values abroad with dignity and perseverance.

“President Trump has made clear his fundamental misunderstanding of the role of diplomacy, and his disdain for the men and women of the State Department who have dedicated their lives to pursuing the foreign policy interests of the United States. Now, with one less voice for forward-leaning diplomacy both inside the administration and in the region, the United States further risks being missing in action when it comes to advancing a safe and secure future on the Korean Peninsula for ourselves, our allies and for the broader region.

“To address the very real threat of a nuclear conflict, this Administration must translate their so-called maximum pressure into a meaningful diplomatic solution. Instead, our North Korea policy is fueled by a President who lacks the interest or ability to lead our government in a truly comprehensive approach that leverages maximum pressure for maximum engagement, and prides tough-minded and clear-eyed negotiations over bombs and bluster.

“Fourteen months into this administration we still lack an ambassador in South Korea, a Senate-confirmed Assistant Secretary for East Asia, and now we have lost our lead negotiator on North Korean denuclearization efforts. The President must immediately name a new ambassador to South Korea, replace Mr. Yun, and commit to a sensible, pragmatic path forward toward diplomacy and denuclearization on the Korean Peninsula. Without the full weight of a robust diplomatic presence in the Asia-Pacific region, the United States will be left on the sidelines at a time when we can least afford it. The stakes are too high.”


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