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Sullivan, Ernst, Gardner Conclude Productive CODEL to East Asia

WASHINGTON, DC – U.S. Senators Dan Sullivan (R-AK), Joni Ernst (R-IA) and Cory Gardner (R-CO) returned this week from a congressional delegation trip to South Korea, Burma, Singapore, Taiwan and Japan focused on critical issues underpinning U.S. relations in the region, including strengthening our security ties, growing trade opportunities to bolster American exports, and promoting homegrown American energy. To view photos from the trip, click here.

“Our visit reinforced that America has a wealth of allies, especially in Asia, and this wealth is a comparative advantage over our adversaries,” said Senator Dan Sullivan. “However, America’s allies in this region face some of the most serious geopolitical challenges in a generation – from the escalating threats made by the rogue and unstable North Korean regime, to an aggressive military build-up by the Chinese amid the busy shipping lanes of the South China Sea. Now is the time to hold faith with our friends, whose stability and strength hold the key to peace in this region where more than 30 percent of the world’s people reside.”

"As a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, I all too often hear from world leaders about the lack of leadership coming from the White House. Throughout the week, we heard time and again from countries who felt that this administration has let them down," said Senator Joni Ernst. “Many of these countries are critical partners, not only for our strategic national defense interests, but also for our economic growth as we work to develop new trade avenues for American goods and services. Our focus throughout the trip was to reaffirm Congress' commitment to these nations. I look forward to continuing to work to strengthen our partnership for years to come.”

“I appreciated the opportunity to meet with top government officials and military commanders to discuss economic and security challenges in the Pacific region and the role of the United States in addressing them,” said Senator Cory Gardner. “In South Korea, military experts and government leaders echoed many of my grave concerns regarding North Korea’s recent ballistic missile tests and continued aggression. South Korean leaders were encouraged by the implementation of my North Korea Sanctions legislation, but urged additional pressure on the regime. I reiterated my commitment to working to ensure the Obama Administration fully implements the sanctions outlined in my legislation, including sanctions against human rights violators and individuals responsible for malicious cyber-attacks. As Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Subcommittee on East Asia, the Pacific, and International Cyber Security Policy, I look forward to continuing to work with our allies in the region to address the challenges impacting the Pacific and the U.S. relationship.”


While in Korea, the delegation met with General Brooks, commander of U.S. Forces - Korea about the security situation on the peninsula, visited the Demilitarized Zone – the border between South and North Korea – and also met with a recent high-level North Korean defector.


In Burma, the delegation visited the capital city of Naypyidaw and met with senior level government officials as well as Nobel Peace prize winner Aung San Suu Kyi and discussed the ongoing transition to democracy. 


In Singapore, the congressional delegation joined Armed Services Committee Chairman Senator John McCain (R-AZ) and several other U.S. senators in attending the Shangri La Dialogue (SLD) – an annual regional security forum that brings together defense ministers from over 20 Asia-Pacific countries to discuss on-going security issues in the Indo-Asia-Pacific region. At the SLD, the U.S. delegation met with the ministers of defense for Japan and Korea, and encouraged improving trilateral cooperation between our three countries to more effectively respond to contingencies in the Pacific and on the Korean peninsula.


In Taiwan, the delegation met with the newly elected President, Ms. Tsai Ing-wen. 


On their return trip to the United States, the delegation briefly visited Japan and met with U.S. Ambassador to Japan Caroline Kennedy.  ‎