Hong Joon-pyo, the chief of the conservative Liberty Korea Party, will embark on a five-day visit on Oct. 23, during which he will have talks with US diplomatic and security officials, and scholars over the nuclear standoff.
His delegation includes Vice National Assembly Speaker Shim Jae-cheol and other party lawmakers, such as Lee Ju-young, Chung Jin-suk, Lee Cheol-woo, Yeom Dong-yeol and Khang Hyo-shang.
|Hong Joon-pyo, the leader of the main opposition Liberty Korea Party, speaks during a meeting at the party headquarters in Seoul on Sept. 27, 2017. (Yonhap)|
The visit was arranged amid growing tensions caused by the North's Sept. 3 nuclear test and a series of ballistic missile launches. The recent exchange of bellicose rhetoric between the leaders of the US and the North has further escalated tensions.
Earlier this month, the party sent a delegation to Washington to drum up US support for its policy line for redispatching the US nuclear arsenal withdrawn from here in 1991. The delegation only drew a negative response from Washington that holds fast to its principle of denuclearization and nonproliferation.
The party is seeking to arrange meetings of Hong and top officials in the State Department and Pentagon, and leaders of the Senate and House of Representatives. Hong also seeks to meet experts from top think tanks, such as the Heritage Foundation and the Center for Strategic and International Studies.
His itinerary also includes a visit to the US Pacific Command in Hawaii, his aides said.
As the nuclear standoff with the North shows no signs of abating, Hong's party has ramped up calls for Seoul to explore nuclear options to achieve a "balance of nuclear power" with the North, which it says now enjoys a "nuclear monopoly."
Seoul has rejected any tit-for-tat nuclear option, voicing concerns it could destabilize Northeast Asia and trigger a regional nuclear arms race. (Yonhap)