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US Senators Say Alliance with South Korea ‘Will Never Waver'


FILE - U.S. and South Korean army soldiers pose on a floating bridge on the Hantan river during a joint military exercise against a possible attack from North Korea, in Yeoncheon, South Korea, Dec. 10, 2015.

FILE - U.S. and South Korean army soldiers pose on a floating bridge on the Hantan river during a joint military exercise against a possible attack from North Korea, in Yeoncheon, South Korea, Dec. 10, 2015.


Two United States senators released a commentary this week saying America will continue to support its Asian allies.

Republican Senator John McCain of Arizona and Democratic Senator Robert Menendez of Florida wrote in the South Korean Joongang Daily newspaper.

This still from video obtained exclusively by Associated Press shows then-prisoner of war John McCain, standing with other POWs as they were released by the North Vietnamese in Hanoi on March 14, 1973.

This still from video obtained exclusively by Associated Press shows then-prisoner of war John McCain, standing with other POWs as they were released by the North Vietnamese in Hanoi on March 14, 1973.

In the commentary, the senators made a bipartisan pledge. They wrote that no matter who wins the presidential election in November, the U.S. will stay active in Asia. The American politicians said the alliance with South Korea “will never waver.”

McCain and Menendez wrote: “Any political rhetoric to the contrary, any talk of pulling back from our commitment should be taken with a grain of salt on both sides of the Pacific.”

The two senators also referred to presidential candidates who “suggested that we ought to negotiate better deals with our partners and allies.”

Presumptive Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump has, in the past, criticized both Japan and South Korea. During the campaign to get the Republican Party nomination, he said Japan and South Korea pay too little for American troops in their countries.

Trump has said he would consider withdrawing troops from the region if Japan and South Korea refuse to increase security payments to the U.S.

The two U.S. senators did not name Trump in the article.

McCain and Trump have not agreed in the past. McCain has endorsed Trump for president. McCain is one of many prominent Republicans who will not be attending the convention this week in Cleveland. McCain is also running for reelection and has indicated he will to stay close to home to campaign.

Trump’s position has drawn harsh comments from many in Asia. They say changes would hurt trust in the U.S. Experts argue that a nuclear arms race would start in Asia. They also note that any arms buildup would hurt international efforts to pressure North Korea to give up its nuclear weapons.

The senators noted there has been military cooperation between South Korea and the U.S. That cooperation followed North Korea’s fourth nuclear test and long-range rocket launches earlier this year.

Recently the U.S. and South Korea agreed to deploy the American Terminal High Altitude Area Defense missile system, or THAAD. China and Russia opposed the deployment of the THAAD system.

China considers THAAD part of an increasing U.S. military buildup in Asia. Chinese officials are concerned that the system’s powerful radar could cover Chinese territory.

THAAD has also caused protests in South Korean communities. Some in the South are worried about public health and safety concerns.

I’m Marsha James.

Brian Padden wrote this story for VOA news. Youmi Kim in Seoul contributed to this report. Jim Dresbach adapted the story for Learning English. Mario Ritter was the editor.

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Words in This Story

presumptiveadj. giving grounds for reasonable opinion of belief

grain of saltn. to understand that something is likely to be untrue or incorrect

bipartisanadj. relating to or involving members of two political parties

pledgen. a serious promise or agreement

rhetoricn. language that is intended to influence people and that may not be honest or reasonable

endorsev. to publicly or officially say that you support or approve of someone

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