S. Korean, U.S. lawmakers deepen ties on N. Korea, alliance issues

By Lee Chi-dong

WASHINGTON, Jan. 9 (Yonhap) -- South Korean National Assembly Vice Speaker Lee Byung-suk wrapped up a two-day trip here Thursday, during which he agreed with senior U.S. lawmakers to step up joint efforts to address North Korea and alliance issues, according to the South Korean Embassy in Washington.

Lee met and expressed his gratitude to Rep. Ed Royce (R-CA), chairman of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, for his efforts to help strengthen the Seoul-Washington alliance, it said.

Lee, a four-term lawmaker from the ruling Saenuri Party, noted the chairman's support for South Korea on such issues as North Korea's human rights abuses, Japan's wartime sexual slavery, and the Seoul-Washington agreement on civilian nuclear cooperation, the embassy said.

"Rep. Royce suggested close cooperation for the genuine change of North Korea," it said.

Lee also met with Sen. John McCain (R-AZ), regarded as well-versed in diplomatic issues, and raised the problem of Japanese leaders' perceptions of history.

"On the South Korea-Japan relations, Vice Speaker Lee pointed out that due to inappropriate history perceptions and behavior running counter to universal values by Japan's top politicians, South Koreans, who hope for forward-looking ties with Japan, feel hurt," said the embassy.

It did not elaborate on the senator's response to the Japan issue, only saying he stressed the need for South Korea and the U.S. to work together to resolve the North Korea issue and other matters undermining peace and stability in Northeast Asia.

Meanwhile, Lee headed to New York for a two-day stay. He traveled to San Francisco earlier this week.

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