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Roe: Talking is better than missiles flying

Robert Houk • Mar 1, 2019 at 12:00 AM

U.S. Rep. Phil Roe, R-Johnson City, said Thursday he was encouraged by the summit between President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un in Vietnam this week despite the two failing to reach a nuclear agreement.

“It’s fantastic that we are talking,” the 1st District congressman told reporters, adding that face-to-face meetings mean “no missiles are flying.”

The second meeting between the two world leaders was cut short in Hanoi early Thursday after Trump said there were two issues that made a deal on nuclear weapons “inappropriate” at this time. Trump said Kim had asked U.S. sanctions on his country to be lifted completely, something the president said “we wouldn’t do.”

The president also said the North Korean leader was not willing to meet U.S. demands to dismantle a number of his key nuclear facilities.

Roe, who served as an Army doctor near the demilitarized zone between North Korea and South Korea in the 1970s, said the talks between Trump and Kim were dear to his heart. The congressman said he believes talks on denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula will continue to be “a slow and long process.”

In other issues Thursday:

• Roe said he needed to do more of his “own research” on the constitutional ramifications of Trump’s declaration of an emergency at the Southern border, but told reporters he nonetheless supports the president’s plans to build a wall on the country’s border with Mexico.

“I haven’t looked at all the minutia,” the congressman said. “I’m not a lawyer.”

He noted that there have been four such emergency declarations from Trump, as opposed to the 10 issued during former President Barack Obama’s eight years in office.

“It’s all politics,” Roe said referring to a resolution passed by the Democratic-controlled House of Representatives earlier this week to terminate Trump’s emergency declaration.

He said the president would veto the resolution if it passed in the GOP-controlled Senate. In the long term, Roe said the U.S. Supreme Court would likely be asked to sort out the constitutional issues.

• The congressman participated in a ceremony on the Capitol Mall to mark the creation of a Operation Desert Shield/Desert Storm War Memorial. Roe said he had worked eight years to pass the legislation to establish a monument to those who served in the 1990-91 Gulf War.

He said former Vice President Dick Cheney and the ambassador from Kuwait participated in the ceremony on Tuesday.

• Roe said he was “very happy” to see a $4.2 million federal grant approved for Rural Health Services Consortium Inc., which provides primary health care to uninsured and low-income residents of Carter, Greene, Hancock, Hawkins, Johnson, Sullivan, Unicoi and Washington counties.

The congressman said the grant money would go to help patients in underserved rural areas of his district.

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