April 24, 2019

Senators Hassan, Coons Reaffirm Importance of U.S-South Korea Alliance, Achieving Denuclearization

SEOUL, SOUTH KOREA – Senator Maggie Hassan (D-NH) a member of the Senate Homeland Security and Finance Committees, and Senator Chris Coons (D-DE), a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, were in Seoul, where they met with senior officials to reaffirm the U.S.-South Korea alliance and discuss ways to advance shared interests and values, including verifiable denuclearization of the peninsula. 

The Senators were briefed by Major General Stephen Williams, Chief of Staff, U.S. Forces Korea, and held meetings with U.S. Ambassador to South Korea Harry Harris, Korean National Security Advisor Chung, Korean Foreign Minister Kang, Korean Defense Minister Jeong, and members of the Korean National Assembly. The Senators met with brave young people who defected from North Korea and learned English with the help of U.S. government exchange programs. They also met with representatives of the South Korean semiconductor industry to discuss innovation, competitiveness, and trade issues.

“The United States-South Korea alliance is built upon shared values and upon common economic and national security interests, and the United States Congress and the American people strongly stand with our important ally South Korea,” Senator Hassan said. “Throughout our meetings with South Korean government officials and lawmakers, we emphasized America’s commitment to U.S.-South Korean joint defense efforts and to the complete, verifiable, and irreversible denuclearization of the Korean peninsula. President Trump did the right thing walking away from a deal at Hanoi without getting serious, concrete offers and specifics that would help guide us to the next stage of a denuclearization agreement – and so it was very important that the President recognized no deal was better than a bad deal. We all understand that when you enter complex negotiations between parties that have long been not only at a distance, but have created mistrust for each other, that you need to do things to build confidence. But, to suggest that relieving sanctions before there is denuclearization – I think it's not something that people in the United States would support.” 

“A large part of our purpose in being here is to reassert the significance of the U.S./South Korea alliance, to express our view that it is a lynchpin to regional security, that it is essential to America's security and prosperity, and to clarify, just speaking for us for the moment, that there is a very strong commitment to this alliance,” Senator Coons said. “South Korea has come forward and amended our free trade agreement in ways that are very positive and deeply appreciated. The relocation of our forces to Camp Humphreys, which South Korea has helped to finance, is another indicator of just how close this partnership is.”

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Senators Hassan and Coons with Marines from the Security Guard Detachment at the U.S. Embassy in Seoul, South Korea

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 Senators Hassan and Coons with Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-wha

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Senators Hassan and Coons with North Korean defectors

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