19 July, 2016
Two United States senators released a commentary this week saying America will continue to support its Asian allies.
Republican Senator John McCain of Arizona and Democratic Senator Robert Menendez of Florida wrote in the South Korean Joongang Daily newspaper.
In the commentary, the senators made a bipartisan pledge. They wrote that no matter who wins the presidential election in November, the U.S. will stay active in Asia. The American politicians said the alliance with South Korea "will never waver."
McCain and Menendez wrote: "Any political rhetoric to the contrary, any talk of pulling back from our commitment should be taken with a grain of salt on both sides of the Pacific."
The two senators also referred to presidential candidates who "suggested that we ought to negotiate better deals with our partners and allies."
Presumptive Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump has, in the past, criticized both Japan and South Korea. During the campaign to get the Republican Party nomination, he said Japan and South Korea pay too little for American troops in their countries.
Trump has said he would consider withdrawing troops from the region if Japan and South Korea refuse to increase security payments to the U.S.
The two U.S. senators did not name Trump in the article.
McCain and Trump have not agreed in the past. McCain has endorsed Trump for president. McCain is one of many prominent Republicans who will not be attending the convention this week in Cleveland. McCain is also running for reelection and has indicated he will to stay close to home to campaign.
Trump's position has drawn harsh comments from many in Asia. They say changes would hurt trust in the U.S. Experts argue that a nuclear arms race would start in Asia. They also note that any arms buildup would hurt international efforts to pressure North Korea to give up its nuclear weapons.
The senators noted there has been military cooperation between South Korea and the U.S. That cooperation followed North Korea's fourth nuclear test and long-range rocket launches earlier this year.
Recently the U.S. and South Korea agreed to deploy the American Terminal High Altitude Area Defense missile system, or THAAD. China and Russia opposed the deployment of the THAAD system.
China considers THAAD part of an increasing U.S. military buildup in Asia. Chinese officials are concerned that the system's powerful radar could cover Chinese territory.
THAAD has also caused protests in South Korean communities. Some in the South are worried about public health and safety concerns.
I'm Marsha James.
Brian Padden wrote this story for VOA news. Youmi Kim in Seoul contributed to this report. Jim Dresbach adapted the story for Learning English. Mario Ritter was the editor.
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Words in This Story
presumptive – adj. giving grounds for reasonable opinion of belief
grain of salt – n. to understand that something is likely to be untrue or incorrect
bipartisan – adj. relating to or involving members of two political parties
pledge – n. a serious promise or agreement
rhetoric – n. language that is intended to influence people and that may not be honest or reasonable
endorse – v. to publicly or officially say that you support or approve of someone