WASHINGTON, Sept. 27 (Yonhap) -- A U.S. senator proposed Wednesday that China be allowed to keep a peacekeeping force on the inter-Korean border as part of a solution to the North Korean nuclear standoff.
In an interview on MSNBC, Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) said the arrangement could satisfy both North Korea and China, which he claimed wants to be treated with more respect.
"Have them be part of a peacekeeping force in exchange for North Korea giving up their weapons," Paul said. "But I'm not talking about initially doing this. I'm talking about doing this in exchange for North Korea dismantling their program. They would be simultaneous sort of things."
China is North Korea's main ally and trading partner. It is responsible for 90 percent of the reclusive nation's external trade.
The Trump administration has pushed Beijing to use its influence to rein in Pyongyang's nuclear weapons and ballistic missile programs. But China is concerned that pressuring Pyongyang too hard will lead to a collapse of the regime and trigger an influx of refugees or the emergence of a U.S.-allied Korean Peninsula on its doorstep.
"It's a way to go to China with respect and ask them for their help as opposed to telling to China, 'If you don't do what we say, we're going to put more sanctions on you and your banks,'" the senator said.
"It will be China's part of an international force. But I think the North Koreans might be reassured that we're not going to invade North Korea if there's Chinese forces there."
Paul argued that the regime in Pyongyang learned a lesson from the U.S. attack on Libya that it could still be toppled even if it gives up its nuclear weapons.
"We have to overcome North Korea's distrust of our motives," he said.