Sen. Rob Portman (R-OH) joined a bipartisan congressional trip to South Korea this week to discuss trade between the U.S. and South Korea as well as the ongoing nuclear negotiations with North Korea.
During a visit to the demilitarized zone between South Korea and North Korea, Portman sported an “Otto” t-shirt in remembrance of Ohio native Otto Warmbier, who was famously imprisoned by Kim Jong Un’s regime and later died after being returned to the U.S.
“Being in the region, I could not help but think of Otto Warmbier and his family. Otto has been at the front of my mind while I’ve been here and I’ve made clear to South Korean government officials that we must never forget him,” Portman said in a press release.
The Ohio senator visited with soldiers from his home state during the trip who are “serving on the front lines to protect the people of South Korea from potential North Korean aggression.”
“I am so grateful for the incredible sacrifices that our soldiers make on our behalf and I was honored to visit with them during my time in South Korea,” Portman said.
Portman said he also visited with South Korean trade representatives to discuss ways to open up South Korean markets to more agriculture, auto and other manufacturing exports from Ohio.
“During my visit this week I met with South Korean trade officials to discuss our efforts to deepen economic ties between our two countries and expand exports from Ohio,” he said. “The Republic of Korea remains among our most steadfast allies and a strong economic partner and I believe we should look for every opportunity to build on this strategic relationship.”
Portman said that while he supports the “direct dialogue” between President Donald Trump and Kim Jong Un, he believes “sanctions must remain in place until North Korea truly changes course and agrees to denuclearize.”
“We discussed ways to keep North Korea from circumventing the sanctions, and how to keep pressure on North Korea,” he added. “As we continue to face together the threat that North Korea poses, I look forward to an even stronger alliance with South Korea in the years to come.”
The visit was part of a multi-country oversight trip throughout East Asia led by Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT), and included seven other Senate colleagues.
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Anthony Gockowski is managing editor of Battleground State News, The Ohio Star, and The Minnesota Sun. Follow Anthony on Twitter. Email tips to [email protected].
Background Photo “Rob Portman” by Rob Portman.