Johnson: Summit is due to Trump’s strength

STEUBENVILLE — U.S. Rep. Bill Johnson (R-Marietta) said the tough talk in recent days from President Trump is part of showing strength in negotiations.

Trump has come under fire for refusing to sign the usual joint statement at the end G-7 summit in Canada, and he talked tough for weeks leading up to Monday’s meeting with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.

Johnson made his comments to reporters during a stop Monday morning in Steubenville.

Johnson said Trump has been exactly right in his dealings with North Korea.

“There’s a lot of ‘Reaganesque’ actions by this president in the way he’s dealing with the North Korean leader,” Johnson said. “Remember Reagan walked away at Reykjavik, when Miguel Gorbachev demanded he stand down the Strategic Defense Initiative, which now has become the Iron Dome that protects Israel and has helped with some of our own anti-ballistic missile technology at home.”

Johnson said while a breakthrough was possible, he believes the summit is the first step of several meetings.

“To get the North Korean leader to come to the table and have the North Korean leader and the South Korean leader talking on the same stage, this is historic,” Johnson said.

Johnson said given China flexing its economic and military muscle in the Pacific and trade issues with China, success with the summit is vital.

Regarding trade, Johnson answered questions about his view of Trump’s tough talk with host Canada and other nations during the G-7 summit over the weekend.

“We’ve complained about the trade deficit and some of those countries won’t let our agricultural products go in. Some of them are dumping aluminum and steel into America, causing our industries to have to throttle back and, in many cases, shut down our ability to produce,” Johnson said.

“They won’t come to the table. What’s happening now? They’re at the table,” Johnson said.

He said it’s part of the art of negotiating.

“I think the president has made some very interesting points. We’re the largest contributor to NATO. Most of these countries that are our trading partners, the EU and Canada and others, are dependent on America for security reasons,” he said. Johnson said the Europeans had to rely on the United States during World War I and World War II.

Johnson said it’s time other nations realize that “I’ll scratch your back but you’ve got to scratch mine, too.”

He said that’s what Trump is trying to do — “start a dialogue that will get us to a better place for American workers.

“I think it is a work in progress. We’re not where we’re going to end up on the trade front.”