Congress to vote on resolutions reaffirming strength of alliance with Korea
The U.S. House of Representatives is scheduled to vote this week on a pair of resolutions calling for a stronger alliance with Korea, according to a U.S. congressman and ally of President-elect Joe Biden.
The office of Rep. Tom Suozzi, a Democrat from New York, stated that the two resolutions, including one "expressing the importance of the United States alliance with the Republic of Korea," would be voted on Wednesday morning in the House.
Introduced by Suozzi to the House in April 2019, the resolution recognizes that the alliance plays a "vital role" in promoting "peace and security in the Indo-Pacific region," while calling for diplomatic, economic and security ties between the two countries to be broadened.
The resolution notably calls for a "mutually agreeable, multi-year" defense cost-sharing deal with South Korea to be concluded, a referencing to the stalled negotiations on the Special Measures Agreement (SMA).
The second resolution, introduced to mark the 70th anniversary of the outbreak of the 1950-53 Korean War this year, identifies the alliance as the "linchpin of regional stability and mutual security in Northeast Asia."
It further reaffirms the two allies must pursue a "coordinated policy of diplomatic engagement, economic pressure and military deterrence to achieve peace and the denuclearization of North Korea."
Parallel resolutions have been introduced in the Senate by Republican Senators James Lankford and Cory Gardner, demonstrating the strong bipartisan support for the alliance within the U.S. Congress. The counterpart to the resolution was passed in the Senate in January this year.
The resolutions are worded in diplomatic language common to alliance rhetoric, but the fact that they are likely to pass in both houses of Congress ahead of the president-elect's inauguration could offer an indication of the incoming administration's policy toward the Korean Peninsula.
Suozzi is known as a close ally of the president-elect. His advocacy for a mutually agreeable SMA in the resolution sends a positive signal to Seoul that the Biden White House may not be as insistent as Trump in hiking South Korea's contribution for the upkeep of some 28,500 U.S. troops on the Korean Peninsula.
Biden notably said in an article contributed to Korea's Yonhap News Agency last month that as president he would not replicate Trump's actions of "extorting Seoul with reckless threats" to remove U.S. troops unless South Korea pays up.
For its own part, Seoul has moved quickly since the U.S. presidential election to gauge Biden's willingness to support South Korean President Moon Jae-in's inter-Korean initiatives and the new administration's position on outstanding alliance issues.
On Sunday a delegation of South Korea's ruling Democratic Party lawmakers departed for Washington with plans to meet U.S. lawmakers, other policymakers and experts.
In a press conference before the departure, the delegation's head Rep. Song Young-gil said they would meet U.S. Undersecretary of State Stephen Biegun as well as congressional figures like Rep. Suozzi, but that figures on Biden's transition team remained inaccessible at the moment as Trump has yet to concede the election.
Song also welcomed Suozzi and Langford's parallel resolutions on the alliance, noting the timing of the votes was "very meaningful."
"Korea-U.S. relations [mean] we are allies that must closely cooperate no matter which administration is in power," Song said. "We will work to ensure the Korean Peninsula peace policy advocated by President Moon may be accepted by the Biden administration by improving mutual understanding."
BY SHIM KYU-SEOK [firstname.lastname@example.org]