UPDATE : 2019.1.22 TUE 17:06
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U.S. senator tells Trump to leave N.K. policy to 'professionals'

A ranking U.S. senator told President Donald Trump Tuesday to let the "professionals" conduct foreign policy on North Korea.

Sen. Bob Corker (R-TN), chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, took a swipe at the president as the feud between them escalated to new levels.

"Really, when you look at the fact that we've got this issue in North Korea and the president continues to kneecap his diplomatic representative, the secretary of state, and really move him away from successful diplomatic negotiations with China, which is key to this, you're taking us on a path to combat," Corker told ABC.

This AP file photo shows Sen. Bob Corker. (Yonhap)

The outgoing senator was referring to when Trump tweeted that his top diplomat, Rex Tillerson, was "wasting his time" trying to negotiate with North Korea over its nuclear and ballistic missile programs.

Trump made the remark shortly after Tillerson told reporters in Beijing that the U.S. was "probing" to see if Pyongyang was interested in talks. China's role is seen as critical in efforts to bring the North to the table because it is the regime's only major ally.

"I want to support these efforts that are underway," Corker said. "The president undermines our secretary of state, raises tensions in the area by virtue of the tweets that he sends out."

The senator went on to say: "I would just like for him to leave it to the professionals for a while and see if we can do something that's constructive for our country, the region, and the world."

Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer (D-NY) backed his colleague from the other side of the aisle.

"Instead of undermining his secretary of state and picking Twitter fights with Kim Jong-un that risk a war, he should formulate a serious strategy to put heat on China to pressure the North Koreans to resolve the crisis," he said before the Senate, referring to the North Korean leader.

Trump and Kim have recently traded personal insults, calling each other "Little Rocket Man" and a "deranged U.S. dotard."

"China holds the cards here. They've done very little to help us," Schumer added.

The State Department retorted that all of its actions are conducted on behalf of the president and his administration.

"The president is the commander in chief of all of the United States," department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said during a regular press briefing. "The president sets the standard. The president and his administration will give us our marching orders, if you will."

Hwi Won  edt@koreapost.com

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