Indiana veterans, lawmakers and experts react to historic Trump-Kim summit


President Trump makes a statement before saying goodbye to North Korea leader Kim Jong Un in Singapore on June 12, 2018

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INDIANAPOLIS – Reaction spread across Indiana Tuesday after President Donald Trump’s historic meeting with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.

“I just hope you can trust them,” Gene Esselborn said at the VFW Post 98 in Indianapolis Tuesday, a Korean War veteran.

Alan Johnson, a Vietnam War veteran agreed saying the true test comes if North Korea begins to dismantle and allow inspectors into the country.

“There are a lot of reasons to be skeptical,” Rep. Jim Banks (R-Ind.) said. “Go back to 2005 when a very similar agreement was signed with North Korea. Go back to the 90’s. Almost all of the language in that agreement last night was recycled from agreements that were signed in the 90’s as well.”

Mark Minton, a former U.S. Ambassador and deputy chief of missions at the U.S. Embassy in Seoul, negotiated with North Korea during the Clinton administration and is now a professor at IU’s School of Global and International Studies.

“If you’ve followed this for decades as I have, it’s quite a spectacular event,” Minton said. “It’s clear from the summit that to get the objective we want is going to be the work of many months, if not years of subsequent negotiations.”

Those negotiations will also likely involve Congress. Already lawmakers have made it know they want a say in any final deal that involves North Korea, including oversight and verification.

“I intent to play my part with respect to the oversight role,” Sen. Todd Young (R-Ind.) said in an interview Tuesday. “And then should an agreement be consummated that we feel comfortable with, it’s my belief that Congress is going to have to weigh in about the final agreement ink to paper.”

Sen. Joe Donnelly (D-Ind.) voiced concern over the president’s announcement to stop join military exercises with the U.S. and South Korea.

“These efforts are central to assuring the security of our allies in the region,” Donnelly said in a statement. “And I will be actively seeking details on this front.”

Vice President Mike Pence said in a tweet Tuesday he spoke with President Trump ahead of a briefing with Congressional leadership.

“It’s a good 48 hours for everyone,” Minton said. “I’ve always believed the North Koreans are developing nuclear weapons and missile systems not to attack anyone but as diplomatic leverage. So there is a possibility Kim Jong Un is cashing in his chips.”

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