|February 21, 2003
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
|WASHINGTON, D.C.—FALEOMAVAEGA MEETS WITH SAMOAN SOLDIERS AND WORLD LEADERS IN ASIA PACIFIC REGION|
| Congressman Faleomavaega
announced today that as part of a Congressional delegation to Asia he met
with soldiers from American Samoa now serving on the border of South and
“Our soldiers are serving in one of the most dangerous parts of the world,” Congressman Faleomavaega said. “How easily we forget that it was only some 50 years ago that the military forces of communist North Korea crossed the borders of South Korea, took over and captured South Korea’s capital, the city of Seoul. This communist takeover was deliberate and it was only through a tremendous loss and sacrifice of human life that a United Nations sponsored military force under the leadership of General Douglas McArthur managed to push the North Korean army back to its border.”
“More than 37,000 American soldiers lost their lives to free the people of South Korea and thousands more were wounded and maimed for life,” the Congressman said. “Today, we now have some 37,000 troops stationed in Korea to support and to provide some sense of stability in the Korean peninsula. But North Korea has hundreds of thousands of soldiers ready at any time to cross the border. Common sense dictates that our soldiers are in a very dangerous situation if the Korean War starts again.”
“North Korea has the capability, maybe not perfected yet, but the capability of shooting an ICBM type missile that can land anywhere in the United States,” Congressman Faleomavaega said. “You add North Korea’s recent announcements that it is developing the capability to produce an atomic weapon and, according to some media reports, that it already has 2 or 3 atomic devices, and the entire spectrum of our foreign policy in the Asia Pacific region has now changed.”
“Due to these serious and alarming developments, I was pleased to accept an invitation to visit with leaders in South Korea, Hong Kong and Taiwain. Two other members including Earl Pomeroy, a Democrat from North Dakota, and Tom Feeney, a Republican from Florida, also joined our CODEL which was sponsored in part by the Heritage Foundation, the Harbour Group, and the U.S.-Korea Exchange Council.”
“Congressman Pomeroy serves on the House Ways and Means Committee. The House Ways and Means Committee oversaw the Andean trade agreement and will also be the main Committee dealing with our IRS Section 936 legislation which is important to keeping our tuna industry afloat. Congressman Feeney serves on the Judiciary Committee and I am hopeful that he will be helpful in supporting a bill which I intend to introduce which will allow U.S. Nationals to apply directly for U.S. citizenship,” Faleomavaega said.
“Like me, these members of Congress believe that one of our most important responsibilities as members of Congress is to visit our soldiers and do all in our power to ensure their safety. This is why we are pleased that U.S. General Leon LaPorte, the 4-star Commanding General of all United States, United Nations and South Korean military forces stationed in South Korea, agreed to accompany us as we visited our soldiers serving right on the border of South Korea and North Korea,” Congressman Faleomavaega said. “The border is known as the demilitarized zone (DMZ) and it is now one of the most dangerous zones in the world. More than 40 soldiers from American Samoa are pulling duty at the DMZ.”
“Given the dangerous circumstances under which our soldiers are serving, I am also pleased that our Delegation had the privilege of meeting with both the outgoing and incoming Presidents of South Korea. At the time of accepting the invitation to visit South Korea, we did not know that we would be the last members of the U.S. Congress to visit with the President of South Korea before the new President-elect takes office. This was an historic moment and we wish President Kim Dae-jung the very best. We also offer our best wishes and support to President-elect Roh Moo-hyun who, like President Bush and our entire nation, faces serious challenges as a result of North Korea’s nuclear threat.
“At this time, I want to once again thank the sons and daughters of American Samoa who are now serving in the U.S. military. I am proud of our soldiers and I am grateful for every opportunity that I have to spend with them,” Congressman Faleomavaega said.
“I am also grateful for the brief opportunity that I had to meet with some Korean business leaders while in South Korea. I am hopeful that as a result of these meetings we will be able to reach a better understanding with our Korean business community in American Samoa and find new ways to develop our economy. I also want to express my thanks to the President of Taiwan. Taiwan catches more albacore tuna than almost any other nation. Many Taiwanese boat owners off-load their catch in American Samoa. During my discussions with President Chen Shui-bian, we had an opportunity to talk about the future of the tuna industry and we also discussed the matter of the Taiwanese boat owners who left their fisherman stranded in American Samoa. Our discussions were positive and we both recognize how the global tuna market affects our local economies.”
“All in all,” Congressman Faleomavaega said, “our Delegation had a series of successful meetings and I am pleased that I was able to represent American Samoa during these meetings held in the Asia Pacific region. I am also pleased that both the Republican and Democratic parties were represented on this Delegation and I am hopeful that when Congress goes back in session on February 25 we will be able to work together to address some serious challenges now facing American Samoa.”
“Once again, I want to express my deepest thanks and appreciation to the sons and daughters of American Samoa who have committed their lives to protecting our freedom during these dangerous times in our nation’s history. As always, I pray for them and, like you, I am hopeful that one day they will return safely home,” the Congressman concluded.
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