In the letter dated Oct. 10, the 11 Democratic senators and independent Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders expressed grave concern over the president's "inflammatory rhetoric" toward the North.
|Sen. Bernie Sanders (Yonhap)|
It has "brought the United States and the world dangerously close to a conventional war that would likely kill hundreds of thousands of people, or even millions in the event of a nuclear war, including many thousands of Americans," said the letter co-signed by Sen. Ed Markey (D-MA), ranking member of the Foreign Relations Subcommittee on East Asia.
Trump and the North Korean leadership have engaged in an escalating war of words over Pyongyang's nuclear weapons and ballistic missile programs, stoking fears of a war on the Korean Peninsula.
Last month Trump threatened to "totally destroy" the North if necessary.
"We write to urge you in the strongest possible terms to lead a vigorous, sustained American diplomatic campaign to defuse the current Korean Crisis and resolve its underlying causes without starting a war that would make matters worse," the letter said.
The senators said they were encouraged by Secretary of State Rex Tillerson's recent disclosure of ongoing direct communication with Pyongyang but disappointed soon after when Trump rebuked him for the effort.
They also said the Trump administration's policy of "maximum pressure and engagement" has yielded only inflammatory rhetoric and toughened sanctions, without the talks necessary to convince North Korean leader Kim Jong-un the US is not a threat to his survival.
"Decades of animosity underline this suspicion, which pressure without talks will only reinforce," the letter said. "The United States should ... be willing to explore possible diplomatic pathways that further our understanding of North Korea's motivations and how to best achieve arrangements that advance US national security interests and regional stability. The path forward is not easy, but no effort could be more important or more worthwhile, and we urge you to embark on it without delay."
The other co-signatories were Sens. Ben Cardin (D-MD), Dick Durbin (D-IL), Patty Murray (D-WA), Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), Al Franken (D-MN), Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), Jeff Merkley (D-OR), Tom Udall (D-NM), Patrick Leahy (D-VT) and Cory Booker (D-NJ). (Yonhap)