President Donald Trump has reportedly summoned the entire U.S. Senate to the White House on Wednesday for a rare briefing on the situation in North Korea. The briefing will center on the Trump administration’s planned response to North Korea’s nuclear program and Kim Jung Un’s threats to launch attacks on the U.S. and its Asian allies.
According to Reuters, the Trump administration sent a notice to Capitol Hill, summoning all 100 U.S. Senators to the White House for a meeting on Wednesday where they will be briefed by Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and Secretary of Defense James Mattis on the situation in the Korean Peninsula. Other top administration officials who will brief the senators at the meeting include Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Joseph Dunford, according to Reuters.
The briefing, which was originally scheduled to take place in the Senate, is intended to bring the senators up to date on the administration’s planned response to North Korea’s nuclear program, which the U.S. views as a threat to its national security.
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Congressional staffers will not be allowed at the briefing, which will take place at 3 p.m. EDT (1900 GMT). During the meeting, the lawmakers will be allowed to air their views and ask questions about the matter.
There are also plans for a similar briefing for members of the House of Representatives.
Observers have pointed out that the decision by the Trump administration to summon the entire 100-member Senate to the White House for a briefing is unusual. Top administration officials usually go to Capitol Hill to brief Congress on foreign policy matters and national security issues.
News of the meeting sparked online speculation that the Trump administration could be considering a plan to launching an attack on North Korea and start World War 3.
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The latest development comes after Nikki Haley, U.S. ambassador to the U.N., spoke on TV on Monday about the Trump administration’s “red lines” in the face-off with North Korea. She warned that while the U.S. was not seeking a confrontation with Kim Jong-Un’s regime, it would be forced to strike if he “gives us reason to do something.”
She said the U.S. would likely strike if North Korea acquires an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) or attacks a military base, the Telegraph reported.
“If you see him attack a military base, if you see some sort of intercontinental ballistic missile, then obviously we’re going to [strike].”
Haley’s comments came soon after the Chinese President Xi Jinping expressed concern that the tense situation in the Korean Peninsula could escalate into a conflict. He said he hoped that “all parties would exercise restraint and avoid doing things that would aggravate tensions on the peninsula.”
Xi Jinping urged President Trump, in particular, to exercise restraint in his handling of the tense situation in the peninsula. Xi Jinping also urged Washington to “maintain close contacts” with Beijing as way of managing the tensions.
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The Chinese leader spoke soon after the U.S. said it was sending a strike group led by the aircraft carrier U.S. Carl Vinson to the Sea of Japan amid rising tensions over fears that Kim Jong-Un was planning to conduct a nuclear test.
It is feared that North Korea may conduct another nuclear test during the 85th anniversary of the Korean People’s Army on Tuesday. China has expressed fears that President Donald Trump could decide unilaterally to launch an attack against North Korea to thwart Kim Jong-Un’s nuclear ambition. Russia also expressed similar fears and called on Trump to exercise restraint.
President Trump had threatened on Twitter that the U.S. would act unilaterally to stop North Korea’s nuclear program if China failed to act.
U.S. officials are concerned about North Korea’s nuclear and missile tests, and threats to attack the United States and its Asian allies. During a phone conversation with President Xi Jiping, President Trump said that Kim Jong-Un’s “continued belligerence” was destabilizing the region.
It is uncertain how far the Chinese are willing to go to help the U.S. block North Korea’s nuclear program. China is Kim Jong-Un’s most important diplomatic and trading partner. China banned coal imports from North Korea in February as part of sanctions against Pyongyang over its nuclear program. It has been suggested on Chinese media that Beijing could also halt crude oil exports to its neighbor to force it to capitulate.
[Featured Image by Andrew Harnik/AP Images]