North Korea aid in exchange for denuclearization would be "best money we ever spent," Graham says

Sen. Lindsey Graham on N. Korea

Sen. Lindsey Graham said dispersing financial incentives to North Korea if the regime denuclearizes would be the "best money we ever spent."

Graham, who is in Israel to attend the opening of the new U.S. embassy in Jerusalem, made the comments to CBS News' "Face the Nation" moderator Margaret Brennan in an interview that aired Sunday as the U.S. prepares for a summit with North Korea in Singapore on June 12. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said the U.S. is prepared to "work with North Korea to achieve prosperity on the par with our South Korean friends" if North Korea takes "bold action to quickly denuclearize."

"[It would] be the best money we ever spent," Graham said, asked if there is appetite in Congress for such aid. "If you could really get North Korea to give up their nuclear program than I think there'd be a lot of support in Congress to give North Korea a better life. Provide aid, relieve sanctions with one condition: that you give up your nuclear weapons program in a verifiable way. When it comes to North Korea, I think there'd be a lot of congressional support."

Graham stopped short of saying Mr. Trump must get any agreement made with North Korea ratified by Congress. But he did encourage Mr. Trump to take that step, as one of his -- and many Republicans' -- greatest concerns over the Iran nuclear deal was that President Barack Obama failed to obtain congressional authorization for it.

"I would urge the president if he can negotiate an agreement with Kim Jong Un that he takes that agreement and sends it to the Senate," Graham said. "I think that would be a good thing to do. This is a historic opportunity. But if the past is any indication of the future, you've got to watch North Korea like a hawk. But I do believe they're at the table because they see a different person in Donald Trump. And they believe if he had to Trump would use military force. China certainly believes that."

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Graham said he hopes the U.S. will maintain a strong troop presence in South Korea, but will "leave it up to the president" if North Korea denuclearizes and Mr. Trump wants to redeploy some troops elsewhere.

"I'm not trying to spread democracy to North Korea," Graham said. "I'm not trying to unify South Korea and North Korea. I'm trying to stop a unstable regime from having more weapons that can hit America."