Gardner, Bipartisan Group of Senators Reaffirm Importance of U.S.-South Korea Alliance

Washington, D.C. — Senator Cory Gardner (R-CO) and Sen. Bob Menendez (D-NJ), along with his colleagues, sent a bipartisan letter to President Trump ahead of his summit with Republic of Korea (ROK) President Moon Jae-in. In the letter, the Senators reaffirm the importance of the U.S.-ROK alliance and urge to pursue joint efforts to deter the threat from North Korea. Additionally, Gardner and his colleagues urged President Trump and President Moon to find a way to expedite the full deployment of the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) system in South Korea.

Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), John Boozman (R-AR), Chris Coons (D-DE), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Johnny Isakson (R-GA), Marco Rubio (R-FL), Jim Risch (R-ID), Dan Sullivan (R-AK), Richard Shelby (R-R-AL), Rob Portman (R-OH), Roger Wicker (R-MS), Mike Rounds (R-SD), Shelly Moore Capito (R-WV), Todd Young (R-IN), Luther Strange (R-AL), and Ted Cruz (R-TX) also signed the letter.

The letter reads in full:

Dear Mr. President: 

As you prepare for your inaugural summit with President Moon Jae-in of the Republic of Korea (ROK), we write you to reinforce the importance of maintaining and strengthening the U.S.-ROK alliance and taking effective joint steps to deter common threats, such as the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK). 

The U.S.-ROK alliance is forged in blood. 36,574 American troops died in the Korean War, giving their lives for the freedom and prosperity South Koreans enjoy today. Today, 28,500 American troops are deployed in South Korea to protect those same freedoms and to deter external aggression against our ally.  American and South Korean troops have fought side-by-side in all major wars the United States has fought since World War II. We ask you to offer a firm assurance to President Moon that the bonds of our historic alliance are unbreakable and that the U.S. is fully committed to our defense treaty obligations with South Korea.  

We also ask you to reiterate to President Moon that the United States is committed to working with the ROK to implement a full range of multilateral sanctions against the DPRK -- and to intensify those sanctions, if necessary and as merited by DPRK’s behavior.  The new U.S. policy of “maximum pressure” with regard to Pyongyang can only be effective with full cooperation and concurrence of Seoul.

The U.S. and the ROK must continue to deploy a full range of defensive capabilities and show-of-force exercises to deter the DPRK threat. In this regard, you and President Moon should seek a way to expedite the procedural review that is currently hindering the full deployment of the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) system.  We ask you to reiterate to President Moon that the decision to deploy THAAD was an alliance decision and protects both U.S. troops and millions of South Korean citizens, while not posing any threat to South Korea’s neighbors. You should also assure President Moon that the United States condemns China’s unprecedented campaign of economic and political retaliation against South Korean business interests and other sectors of the economy over the deployment of THAAD.

Finally, we also ask you to advance a robust bilateral economic engagement agenda, including securing a mutual commitment to fully and fairly implement the Korea-U.S. Free Trade Agreement (KORUS), and to seek new trade opportunities with the ROK that will benefit American businesses, exporters, and workers.

We look forward to your reply and wish you a successful summit.