Reps. Kim, Khanna Urge Administration to Support Peace Through Economic Ties

April 11, 2019
Press Release

Washington, DC – Today, Reps. Andy Kim (NJ-3) and Ro Khanna (CA-17) sent a letter to President Trump ahead of his meeting with South Korea’s President Moon Jae-in. In the letter, the Members of Congress urge the Trump Administration not to block South Korea’s efforts to engage in cross-border business ventures that can build trust and facilitate progress towards denuclearization.

“The strategic alliance between the U.S. and South Korea is a cornerstone of peace and stability in the region,” said Rep. Kim. The United States cannot address our challenges with North Korea alone. We should move forward, together with South Korea, to achieve the common goal of security and to bring peace to the Korean Peninsula.”

“In light of the breakdown in U.S.-North Korea talks in Hanoi, I hope our president will support our ally South Korea’s efforts to advance their own diplomatic process with the North,” said Rep. Khanna. “True support for the U.S.-Korea alliance involves supporting our partner’s security interests. The South Korean government and their people see peace and reconciliation as a core national security interest.”

The Trump Administration continues to rebuff South Korea’s requests for the U.S. to permit them to resume modest cross-border business cooperation, including such potential projects as the Kaesong Industrial Complex and a joint tourism venture. Experts note that a U.S.-South Korean joint strategy to facilitate cross-border projects would help advance peace and denuclearization of the Korean peninsula. The topic is expected to be part of the discussion at the Trump-Moon meeting today.

Earlier this year, Reps. Kim and Khanna were joined by more than 20 House Democrats who cosponsored a House resolution calling for the U. S. and North Korea to work towards formally ending the Korean War, which is officially in its 68th year.

You can read the letter here or below:

We write in strong support of the United States (U.S.) alliance with the Republic of Korea (South Korea). The U.S. and South Korea share a long history of friendship and cooperation based on shared values and interests. The U.S.-South Korea Mutual Defense Treaty, signed in October 1953, is effective at safeguarding and advancing U.S. and South Korea’s security interests, in particular through enforcing the Armistice Agreement and protecting South Korea from any threats posed by the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (North Korea).

Under the leadership of President Moon Jae-in, our ally South Korea has determined its security interests are best served by engaging in a process of reconciliation and reducing tensions with North Korea, a position that polls show is overwhelmingly supported by the South Korean people. We strongly believe that the U.S. should remain steadfast in its partnership with South Korea and continue our longstanding efforts to protect and advance the security interests of both ourselves and our ally.

We are supportive of your efforts to engage diplomatically with North and South Korea, and are encouraged, even with the breakdown in talks in Hanoi, that that diplomatic efforts appear to be ongoing and that discussions are taking place to find a peaceful solution to the crisis.

As the U.S.-North Korea contacts continue, however, we believe there are steps you can take to support our ally South Korea in their own diplomatic process with North Korea, in particular, their efforts to strengthen cross-border business ties between their two countries.  As a businessman yourself, you are aware of the power that business has in creating bonds between people, interconnecting economies by promoting mutual benefit, and reducing the potential for conflict.

We are concerned that, rather than facilitating these business ties, some in your Administration reportedly took steps to block the South Korean government from engaging in any such economic cooperation with North Korea. We urge you to seriously consider revising this approach -- to the extent sought by South Korea and in accordance with U.S. national security interests -- and to do everything in your power to ensure that our close ally can pursue the cross-border initiatives they deem necessary. This will advance not only their national security interests by building trust with North Korea but our security interests as well, with the ultimate goal of resolving the nuclear crisis and creating a peaceful Korean Peninsula.

As Members of the U.S. Congress, we stand ready to support any steps you may take to facilitate the expansion of cross-border business ties that are sought by South Korea.

Thank you for your attention to this important matter.

Sincerely,

[Members of Congress]