A bipartisan group of South Korean lawmakers arrived in Washington on Wednesday on a visit expected to focus on efforts to resolve a growing trade dispute between Seoul and Tokyo.
Five members of the delegation arrived first, with the other two scheduled to arrive Thursday. The group is led by Rep. Chung Sye-kyun of the ruling Democratic Party, a former parliamentary speaker.
The main purpose of the visit is to attend a biannual meeting with US and Japanese lawmakers on Friday. But noting the timing of the trip, the delegation said they will raise Seoul's concerns about Tokyo's export curbs against the neighboring country.
Rep. Chung Sye-kyun of the ruling Democratic Party speaks to reporters upon arriving at Dulles International Airport, near Washington, on July 24, 2019. (Yonhap)
"We plan to help the government's diplomatic efforts and do our best in terms of parliamentary diplomacy," Chung told reporters upon arriving at Washington's Dulles International Airport.
"Japan's export restrictions are wrong, so we will point that out and seek Japan's agreement while also doing our best to win support from the US," he said.
On July 4, Japan tightened controls on exports to South Korea of key materials used in the production of semiconductors and display panels.
Seoul has condemned the move as retaliation for South Korean court rulings last year that ordered Japanese firms to compensate South Korean victims of forced labor during Tokyo's 1910-45 colonial rule of the Korean Peninsula.
Chung said that a further deterioration of Seoul-Tokyo ties will not benefit the U.S. due to the importance of trilateral cooperation in security affairs.
"There's certainly a need to explain that to the US," he said.
Also in the delegation are the ruling party's Park Kyung-mee and Lee Soo-hyuck; Kim Se-yeon and Choi Gyo-il of the main opposition Liberty Korea Party; and Yoo Ui-dong and Lee Sang-don of the minor opposition Bareunmirae Party.
On Thursday they are scheduled to meet with Sen. Tom Cotton (R-AR) and Rep. Ted Yoho (R-FL), ranking member of the House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Asia, the Pacific, and Nonproliferation. (Yonhap)