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President Trump meets with senators amid tension with North Korea

The Trump administration says North Korea’s pursuit of nuclear weapons is an urgent national security threat and the U.S. will exert pressure through diplomatic measures and tighter economic sanctions.

That’s according to a statement issued by State Department, defense and intelligence chiefs Wednesday after briefing senators.

The statement outlines a policy that sounds similar to that of the Obama administration.

It says President Donald Trump aims to pressure North Korea into dismantling its nuclear, ballistic missile and proliferation programs, and is engaging the international community to achieve that and persuade Kim Jong Un’s government “to de-escalate and return to the path of dialogue.”

The U.S. “remains open to negotiations” to achieve denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula, but the statement adds, “we remain prepared to defend ourselves and our allies.”

The White House says President Trump did not attend the entire meeting.

An administration official says he attended only the first five minutes of the meeting. He delivered opening remarks before handing it over to his national security team.

Defense Secretary Jim Mattis, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats and Gen. Joseph Dunford, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, presided over the full meeting.

The official spoke anonymously because the details of the meeting have not been made public.

The meeting lasted about one hour and discussed various financial and military options available for pressuring North Korea to end its nuclear program.

Sen. Joe Donnelly issued the following statement:

“Addressing the threat North Korea’s nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles pose to the United States and our allies needs to be a top national security priority for the President and Congress. As the Ranking Member of the Strategic Forces Subcommittee, I have been to the DMZ and met with Hoosiers stationed there. I will continue to work with my colleagues on a bipartisan basis to increase sanctions against North Korea and those who enable them and ensure our military has the resources it needs to protect our homeland and our troops.”

Sen. Todd Young (R-IN) issued this statement:

“Today’s briefing at the White House underscored that North Korea’s nuclear and ballistic missile programs represent an urgent and unacceptable threat to the United States and our allies. The administration must keep all options on the table.

“Furthermore, I support the Trump administration’s strategy of coordinating closely with our allies, strengthening our military capabilities in the region, and making clear to Beijing that it is in China’s interests to utilize all of their available diplomatic and economic leverage to change North Korea’s behavior.”