(CNSNews.com) - Rep. Mac Thornberry (R-Texas), the chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, says North Korea has expressed a willingness to talk with the United Sates so "they can get sanctions eased."
Thornberry warned that the rogue regime has a longhistory of playing the U.S. "like a fiddle."
They will do a test or escalate some crisis, and then they'll agree to back off a little bit in exchanage for relaxing sanctions or some talks or something, so you've had a series of ups and downs over the years. But at the end of the day, they've been able to develop intercontinental missiles, nuclear weapons, and a threat to our homeland.
So they'll go up and down, but at the end of the day, they'll get what they want.
President Trump, at a news conference on Tuesday, said he believes the North Koreans have expressed a willingness to talk to the United States because of the “very, very strong and very biting” sanctions they are facing. The White House, nevertheless, has expressed cautious optimism about the possibility of talks.
Thornberry told Fox News on Wednesday that the U.S. should be "clear-eyed" about North Korea's aim. "They are trying to get sanctions eased, or at least make sure there's not new sanctions applied, and they're trying to weaken our resolve to stand up to them. So...put it on the table as far as exactly what they will do, and make them do it.
"Don't ease sanctions just so they will come to the table and start talking. That's a tactic they've used over the years, to great effect."
Thornberry said standing up to North Korea militarily is what sends them the "clearest message of all." And while the Trump administration should be open to talks, "none of us should be deluded into thinking that these people have suddenly changed their stripes."
Trump's Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin told Congress on Tuesday that both he and the president believe that sanctions do work. "We've seen this in North Korea. There's no question in my mind," Mnuchin said. "A big part of the reason why they're coming to the table now and talking about negotiating is because our sanctions have had significant economic impact -- on their economy."
Last month, the Trump administration announced the largest set of sanctions ever imposed on North Korea, targeting 27 shipping and trade companies, 28 vessels, and one individual, all involved in efforts to evade previous sanctions on coal, fuel, and other goods.
"Those who trade with North Korea do so at their own peril," Mnuchin announced at the time. He said any company doing business with North Korea will not be allowed to do business with anyone in the United States.
As CNSNews.com reported, South Korean officials, just back from two days of talks with North Koreans, relayed that dictator Kim Jong-un expressed a willling to abandon his nuclear ambitions in return for security guarantees; and he said he would be willing to hold "candid" talks with the U.S. on denuclearization and normalizing bilateral ties.