A visiting U.S. Republican Senator said Monday that the alliance between South Korea and the U.S. will remain firm regardless of who will win the upcoming U.S. presidential election, Seoul's foreign ministry said.
The remarks by Sen. Dan Sullivan (R-Alaska) were made at a luncheon between Lim Sung-nam, a South Korean vice foreign minister and a group of U.S. Republican senators in Seoul earlier in the day, the ministry said.
Sullivan, who leads the U.S. delegation, said that the U.S. Congress and Americans believe that the Seoul-Washington alliance is serving as a "linchpin" for peace and stability in the region.
The ministry said that he stressed that the U.S. government and Congress will firmly support the alliance no matter who is elected as the next president.
His remarks came as Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump has called for allies to pay more for U.S. defense supports, saying that Washington is protecting wealthy nations including South Korea in exchange for very little in return.
He has even urged Seoul to shoulder 100 percent of the costs necessary to defend against North Korea's threats. His call has spawned speculation that if he is elected, he could withdraw troops unless Seoul agrees to pay more.
Walid Phares, a top foreign policy adviser to Trump, told Yonhap News Agency that it is one of Trump's principles to have South Korea "share more" of the costs.
Seoul's foreign ministry added that Lim asked for consistent interest and support from the U.S. Congress over the international community's stronger sanctions on North Korea.
Pyongyang was slapped with the strongest sanctions to date in early March after it conducted a nuclear test and fired off a long-range missile earlier in the year.
In response, Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Co) stressed the importance of faithful implementation of the U.N. sanctions and the need to strongly press North Korea into giving up its nuclear program, it added.
The three-member delegation, which also includes Joni Ernst (R-Iowa), arrived in Seoul on Sunday for a four-day stay. (Yonhap)