The United States got a "big win" when North Korea released three American detainees, leaving North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and the hardliners in his regime trying to gain leverage as negotiations near, Sen. John Thune said Wednesday.
He also told Fox News' "America's Newsroom" that North Korea's "sudden resistance" to joint exercises between South Korea and the United States strikes him as an attempt to influence the negotiations.
"The president has been effective in terms of not only policy but the way he has approached North Korea," the South Dakota Republican commented.
"The show of force exercises that they're reacting to is something that we've been doing for a long time on the peninsula. . . the bottom line is we need to do everything we can try and denuclearize the Korean peninsula and bring North Korea to the table. The president and his team so far have been very effective in doing that."
Earlier on Wednesday, White House press secretary Sarah Sanders said the Trump administration is optimistic the meeting between the two countries will happen, and Thune, who chairs the Senate Republican Conference, said President Donald Trump was "very upbeat" during a meeting with Republicans on Capitol Hill Tuesday.
"The president was very upbeat, and he did walk us around the world in terms of what is going on with regard to foreign policy, which I think was especially useful," said Thune. "He gave us some insights into what their thinking is with respect to Iran and North Korea and other areas."
The president also focused on the economy, which is "taking off," the senator said.
"The president wants to continue to capitalize on that and work with us to keep it moving forward," said Thune. "A pro-growth, pro-jobs agenda, he laid that out yesterday and he was very in rare form and very upbeat."
Thune also commented on the Senate intelligence Committee's 10-5 vote in support of Gina Haspel as the next CIA director, sending the nomination on for a full Senate vote this week.
"[This is] A tribute to just how impressive she was in her confirmation hearing and how qualified she is," said Thune. "This is somebody who has just tremendous experience and background, skill.
"She has been involved in leadership positions at the CIA and she has been in the field. She is widely respected not only within the agency but across the world and I think that it's time we get that important position filled."
He added that he believes Democrats have concluded that continuing to block her nomination, when there is so much at stake around the world, "would be a big mistake," so now, some are starting to come around and support her.
© 2021 Newsmax. All rights reserved.