NATIONAL

Ranking US lawmakers urge Trump to strengthen Korea alliance

By Yonhap
  • Published : Sept 12, 2017 - 10:20
  • Updated : Sept 12, 2017 - 10:20
WASHINGTON -- Two ranking US lawmakers urged President Donald Trump on Monday to bolster Washington's alliance with South Korea in the face of North Korea's escalating threat and China's growing regional influence.

Rep. Ed Royce (R-CA), chairman of the House committee on foreign affairs, and Rep. Ted Yoho (R-FL), chairman of the subcommittee on Asia and the Pacific, said it was clear the bilateral relationship has never been more important in their letter to Trump reflecting on their recent trip to South Korea.

They noted North Korean leader Kim Jong-un is "trying at all costs to drive a wedge" between the allies and remove US forces from the South.
 
This photo shows South Korean President Moon Jae-in (R) meeting with US Rep. Ed Royce at the presidential office Cheong Wa Dae in Seoul on Aug. 28, 2017. (Yonhap)

"The United States must remain resolute in our support for South Korea in the face of this menacing threat, as a withdrawal of the United States from the Peninsula could lead to catastrophic consequences," they wrote.

They also pointed out that China's aspirations for supremacy in Northeast Asia depend on weakened US influence in the region.

"China would like nothing more than decreased levels of US involvement on the Korean Peninsula, which pulling out of KORUS would provide," they said. "Such a move would be a windfall for China and fuel its desire to supplant the US throughout the Asia-Pacific, weakening America's presence in East Asia and throughout the world."

The lawmakers warned that if the US withdraws its commitment to South Korea and other regional partners, these nations will pivot towards China.

"The result will be degrading partnerships with not only South Korea and Taiwan, but also our friends in ASEAN, Australia, and our other partners throughout the world," they said. "Such a scenario is unthinkable and would not benefit the United States' long-term economic and national security interests but, instead, further those of China."

Touching on Trump's recent plans to consider a termination of the US-Korea Free Trade Agreement, they emphasized the deal has only strengthened the 67-year partnership between the two countries.

"The United States' trade deficit with South Korea is something that must be addressed through ongoing engagement," they wrote. (Yonhap)