By Lee Haye-ah
WASHINGTON, Nov. 12 (Yonhap) -- The chairman of the U.S. House Foreign Affairs Committee on Tuesday called for "very tough" negotiations with North Korea, saying he does not believe another meeting between U.S. President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un alone will help efforts to denuclearize the regime.
Rep. Eliot Engel (D-NY) made the remarks as denuclearization negotiations between Washington and Pyongyang have stalled since the no-deal summit between Trump and Kim in Vietnam in February.
North Korea has warned that it will wait until the end of the year for the United States to come up with an acceptable proposal.
"I have not seen Kim Jong-un really be serious about any kind of negotiating," Engel said at an event on Capitol Hill organized by Korean-American leaders. "And I personally think that we should be very tough in our negotiations with him because the last thing we want -- who's the country that's really most in danger? It would be Republic of Korea."
Engel went on to say that the North Korean leader cannot be trusted and that nothing he has done has been conducive to peace.
"I think that there has to be some very strong steps and safeguards," he said, noting that the North's ability to build a nuclear bomb can never be taken away once it has the knowledge. "I think President Trump has met with Kim Jong-un twice now. It hasn't really been brought to fruition. And I don't particularly think it's helpful to meet with him again unless we see that there are very positive ways where they have discarded their nuclear weapons and discarded the ability to make them again."
Trump and Kim have had three meetings beginning in June 2018 to try to reach a deal on denuclearizing the regime. They agreed at their first summit in Singapore to "work toward" complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula, but progress has been slow amid differences over how much the North should denuclearize before it receives sanctions relief and security guarantees from the U.S.
Engel also touted the value of alliances, saying he believes they are the "most important thing the United States has around the world."
That is why, he said, he has been "somewhat critical" of Trump, who has been accused of discounting the importance of the U.S. alliances with South Korea, NATO and other countries.
Asked by a reporter about the possible withdrawal of U.S. troops from South Korea, he answered, with the caveat that he doesn't know what the Trump administration is planning, "It would be stupid to withdraw the forces, and I would be opposed to it."