foreign policy

Would you continue Trump’s approach of meeting directly with North Korean Leader Kim Jong Un without significant nuclear concessions?

Yes

Yes

Candidates who said directly they would meet with Kim Jong Un without conditions

Tulsi Gabbard

U.S. representative, Hawaii

“Yes. Having a meeting is not a concession — direct negotiations without preconditions are necessary if we are serious about peace and keeping the American people safe,” Gabbard told The Post. “We should be open to talk with anyone — recognizing that it is in our national security interest and peace to do so.”

Candidate positions highlighted
Tulsi Gabbard
Gabbard

Bernie Sanders

U.S. senator, Vermont

“Yes, if I determined that such a meeting was the best way to move forward toward an agreement,” Sanders told The Post.

Candidate positions highlighted
Bernie Sanders
Sanders

Marianne Williamson

Author

“Yes. But only if it is helpful to the long-term strategy for peace in the region and to relieve any threat to the United States,” Williamson told The Post.

Candidate positions highlighted
Marianne Williamson
Williamson

Andrew Yang

Tech entrepreneur

“Yes. You can’t find solutions to problems if you’re not willing to talk,” Yang told the Council on Foreign Relations. “I would engage with North Korea without preconditions in order to find a path toward complete, verifiable and irreversible denuclearization.”

Candidate positions highlighted
Andrew Yang
Yang

Not unless some conditions are met

Not unless some conditions are met

Some were open to a meeting if North Korea met conditions

Michael Bennet

U.S. senator, Colorado

Bennet “believes North Korea’s nuclear program poses a grave threat to our nation's security and to global stability and norms. Any American president deserves support for pursuing a diplomatic approach toward denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula,” a campaign spokesperson told The Post. “Any American president must also acknowledge the gravity of the situation, demonstrate leadership befitting of the office, and articulate a strategy to address this threat alongside our international partners. [Bennet] believes we must be clear eyed about the dangers in giving a dictator like Kim Jong Un legitimacy on the world stage — and clear about what we receive in return.”

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Michael Bennet
Bennet

Joe Biden

Former vice president

“After three made-for-TV summits, we still don't have a single concrete commitment from North Korea. Not one missile or nuclear weapon has been destroyed, not one inspector is on the ground. If anything, the situation has gotten worse,” Biden told The Post. “As president, I would renew a commitment to arms control for a new era — including North Korea. The historic Iran nuclear deal the Obama-Biden administration negotiated blocked Iran from getting a nuclear weapon, and it provides a blueprint for an effective negotiation. As president, I will empower our negotiators and jumpstart a sustained, coordinated campaign with our allies and others – including China – to advance our shared objective of a denuclearized North Korea.”

Candidate positions highlighted
Joe Biden
Biden

Cory Booker

U.S. senator, New Jersey

“There is no indication that the current relationship between the U.S. and North Korea merits a meeting of the heads of state. The president has a responsibility to meet and negotiate with other world leaders — even our enemies — to advance vital national and global interests, but only with a clear goal in mind and under appropriate conditions.,” Booker told The Post. “As president, I would empower my diplomatic corps to engage in and demonstrate good faith negotiations, and meet with Kim Jong Un provided he did the same. Ultimately, smart diplomacy and negotiation are vital to resolving this threat.”

Candidate positions highlighted
Cory Booker
Booker

Steve Bullock

Governor, Montana

“Trump has given Kim legitimacy without a clear objective,” Bullock told The Post. “I would be open to meeting with Kim if it were part of a strategic plan to secure peace for the region, not just a photo op.”

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Steve Bullock
Bullock

Pete Buttigieg

Mayor, South Bend, Ind.

“If done properly, direct engagement with foreign leaders can be a key diplomatic tool to avoid conflict — not a high-wire personal act with no safety net,” Buttigieg told The Post. “These meetings should empower our diplomats, bolster our alliances, and move all sides forward on negotiations. I would meet with Kim if the meeting was framed by and coupled with working level progress to negotiate concrete terms of a comprehensive deal leading to denuclearization and regional peace.”

Candidate positions highlighted
Pete Buttigieg
Buttigieg

John Delaney

Former U.S. representative, Maryland

“I support the Trump administration’s discussions with North Korea. We have to have discussions with our ‘enemies.’ That’s the point of diplomacy. And so the Delaney administration looks forward to continuing these discussions and working toward a denuclearized North Korea,” Delaney told Vox. “Since I have not criticized the president for actually holding summits, it would be hypocritical for me to say that I would never do that.” He said a meeting would “absolutely” be conditions-based.

Candidate positions highlighted
John Delaney
Delaney

Kamala D. Harris

U.S. senator, California

“President Trump has handed Kim one PR victory after the next, all without securing any real concessions, so the next president will have serious work to do,” Harris told the Council on Foreign Relations. “I would consider targeted sanctions relief to improve the lives of the North Korean people if the regime were to take serious, verifiable steps to roll back its nuclear program.”

Aug. 22: “I can tell you this: As president, I won’t be exchanging love letters with Kim Jong-un.”

Candidate positions highlighted
Kamala Harris
Harris

Amy Klobuchar

U.S. senator, Minnesota

“We’ve seen a history where Trump announces a summit and nothing really comes of it,” Klobuchar said on CNN. “It’s not as easy as just going and bringing a hot dish over the fence to the dictator next door.”

Candidate positions highlighted
Amy Klobuchar
Klobuchar

Beto O'Rourke

Former U.S. representative, Texas

“By meeting with Kim without significant nuclear concessions, President Trump has handed the regime in Pyongyang greater strength at home and increased legitimacy on the world stage, all while gaining very little in return,” an O'Rourke campaign spokesperson told The Post. “As president, Beto would not rule out a direct meeting with Kim, but any summit between the leaders must be aligned with a diplomatic process and clearly established goals.”

Candidate positions highlighted
Beto O'Rourke
O'Rourke

Tim Ryan

U.S. representative, Ohio

“Absolutely not. Without preconditions for meeting, Trump has given Kim Jong Un’s dictatorship unprecedented, international legitimacy,” Ryan told The Post. “The international and humanitarian crimes committed by the North Korean government are well documented and cannot be ignored. I believe meeting with and negotiating an end to North Korea’s nuclear arsenal is an inevitable and essential prerequisite for peace in the region, but such meetings must be taken in a calculated, methodical way.”

Candidate positions highlighted
Tim Ryan
Ryan

Elizabeth Warren

U.S. senator, Massachusetts

“My first priority with North Korea is to secure a strong, verifiable agreement keeps North Korea from expanding its nuclear arsenal or exporting nuclear technology and expertise to other countries,” Warren told The Post. “I would meet with Kim if it advances substantive negotiations, but not as a vanity project. Any summit must be part of a clear strategy, developed in coordination with our allies and partners and designed to advance our interests.”

Candidate positions highlighted
Elizabeth Warren
Warren

No

No

Joe Sestak

Former U.S. representative, Pennsylvania

“No. We need to engage strongly but in a systematic process with the four other key nations in the area (South Korea, Japan, China and Russia) with the goal of denuclearization,” Sestak told The Post.

Candidate positions highlighted
Joe Sestak
Sestak

Unclear/No response

Unclear/No response

Julian Castro

Former mayor, San Antonio

“I’m not quite sure why this president is so bent on elevating the profile of a dictator,” Castro told CNN. “It’s all symbolism, it’s not substance.” He did not answer this question by publication.

Candidate positions highlighted
Julian Castro
Castro

Bill de Blasio

Mayor, New York City

De Blasio did not answer this question by publication.

Candidate positions highlighted
Bill de Blasio
de Blasio

Wayne Messam

Mayor, Miramar, Fla.

Messam did not answer this question by publication.

Candidate positions highlighted
Wayne Messam
Messam

Tom Steyer

Billionaire activist

Steyer did not answer this question by publication.

Candidate positions highlighted
Tom Steyer
Steyer

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Background Democratic and Republican presidents alike were unable to deter North Korea from building nuclear weapons, which most experts think the country will not relinquish. President Trump’s revolutionary bet is that he can use personal diplomacy to offer Kim a path to economic prosperity and an end to his country’s pariah status. It hasn’t yielded a binding agreement to eradicate nuclear weapons, but has lowered tensions.

How candidate positions were compiled

The Washington Post sent a detailed questionnaire to every Democratic presidential campaign asking whether it supports various changes to U.S. foreign policy. Candidates with similar stances were organized into groups using a combination of those answers, legislative records, action taken in an executive role, and other public comments, such as policy discussion on campaign websites, social media posts, interviews, town hall meetings and other news reports and surveys. See something we missed? Let us know.

We expect candidates to develop more detailed policy positions throughout the campaign, and this page will update as we learn more about their plans. We also will note if candidates change their position on an issue. At initial publication, this page included major candidates who had announced a run for president and excluded any who had left the race. The Post will contact any additional candidates as they enter the contest and include them here.

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