U.S. Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL), Chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, will lead a delegation of House members to Taiwan and South Korea beginning tomorrow, Friday, May 18th. The trip will focus on critical economic and security issues, and will include meetings with senior-level officials of both governments.
"We share vital interests with the Taiwanese and the South Koreans, and our meetings will provide us an important opportunity to discuss issues of mutual concern, including economic growth, trade and defense cooperation," said Ros-Lehtinen.
Joining Ros-Lehtinen in the delegation are U.S. Reps. Dan Burton (R-IN), Thaddeus McCotter (R-MI), Jim Gerlach (R-PA), Brad Miller (D-NC) and Jean Schmidt (R-OH).
In Taiwan, the delegation will meet with President Ma Ying-jeou; Vice President Wu Den-yih; Premier Chen Chun; Foreign Minister Timothy Yang, Deputy Defense Minister Andrew Yang; members of the National Assembly; and opposition leaders including Dr. Tsai Ing-wen. The Members will discuss the rise of China and the need to support Taiwan's defensive capabilities, including selling our democratic ally next-generation F-16 fighter aircraft.
"Taiwan's vibrant and growing democracy merits the unwavering support of the United States," Ros-Lehtinen said. "Taiwan is an important U.S. ally in a region where China is increasingly throwing its weight around, threatening U.S. influence. It is important for our interests and those of Taiwan that we maintain our commitment to ensuring our ally's defensive capabilities," she added.
In South Korea, the delegation will meet with President Lee Myung-bak; First Vice Foreign Minister Ahn Ho-young; Unification Minister Yu Woo-ik; Vice Defense Minister Lee Young-geol; and numerous leaders of the National Assembly. The delegation will also meet with representatives of the American Chamber of Commerce and the Korean International Trade Association.
The delegation is also scheduled to meet with U.S. Army Gen. James D. Thurman, Commander of the Combined Forces Command in South Korea and with U.S. military personnel serving in Korea, and will visit the demilitarized zone separating North and South Korea.
"South Korea's dynamic economy opens new opportunities for U.S. exporters in Asia, and those opportunities have become even greater with the recent implementation of the U.S.-South Korea Free Trade Agreement," Ros-Lehtinen said. "The threat posed to U.S. and regional security by the North Korean regime will also be a priority in our discussions with Korean officials," Ros-Lehtinen added. "The security risks posed by the unstable leadership in North Korea require our constant vigilance, and illustrate the vital importance of our security alliance," she said.