Congressman Ami Bera Talks North Korea with Fox 40
Fox40: The President also made comments about North Korea at the NRA meeting saying he is going to calm down the rhetoric. We have Congressman Ami Bera joining us now, thanks for being with us.
BERA: Glad to be on
Fox40: You are on the Foreign [Affairs] Committee and just recently returned from South Korea, you were leading a delegation there. If my memory serves me correctly, you were there last year right after the President’s “fire and fury” comments – just talk about the difference since that historic meeting.
BERA: You know, ten months ago when we were in South Korea, you just felt like you were on the verge of war. You could feel the tension in the public. And when we met with the Foreign Minister and the President of South Korea, they were very worried. Fast forward to this past week, after the pretty historic summit, where President Moon from South Korea and Kim Jong-un from North Korea met and seemed to have a pretty positive meeting. There’s a sense of optimism, now there’s still a long ways to go, right? To get to a nuclear free peninsula is going to take time. But at least people are talking the door of diplomacy is open.
Fox40: It seems so, even today there was news that the north changed its time-zone to be aligned with the south, just making those symbolic moves to say we’re kind of edging towards peace here. But is there still a sense of caution, not to pull a line from President Reagan, but trust but verify?
BERA: Yeah, and I would change “trust but verify” to say “lets verify first” and make sure they’re shutting down their nuclear program, taking the steps necessary to be good actors, and then build our trust.
Fox40: How important is it for you to go on trips like this?
BERA: It’s incredibly important. We actually don’t have a South Korean ambassador. So we’ve consciously, Democrats and Republicans on the Foreign Affairs Committee have made a decision that we have to go and represent our country overseas, particularly with our allies and places that are tense. And we’ve been pretty active on the Korean peninsula, knowing that we really don’t want to get in a war here.
Fox40: The President also said today that in terms of the meeting with the north, this historic event is expected to happen with Kim Jong-un, that there is a date and a time and a location picked. Any speculation you can make as to where that might be from what you’re hearing?
BERA: It sounds like the president wants to do it at the demilitarized zone, the DMZ, but I think there are some within the administration saying go to a neutral site like Singapore. But Kim Jong-un doesn’t exactly have the best means of transportation so he may want to stay closer to home.
Fox40: And you talked about the optimism there in South Korea, and the feeling that we are kind of hitting a different tone. This is extremely historic because not long ago, just ten months ago, the president was saying the north would be met with fire and fury the likes of which no one had seen. This is just such a different tone.
BERA: It really is, and the fact that a president of the United States may be meeting with Kim Jong-un, the leader of North Korea – that would be historic in and of itself. Now again, there’s still a long ways to go, and let’s take baby steps here. But the door is still open, it doesn’t feel as tense as it did ten months ago. And that’s a good thing, that’s something that Congress has actually been working with the president on.
Fox40: Congress working with the president, there you go. You heard it here. Congressman Ami Bera, thanks so much for joining us.
BERA: You’re welcome, glad to be on.