While she is not running for another term, U.S. Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, R-Fla., the first woman to ever lead the U.S. House Foreign Affairs Committee and currently the chair of the U.S. House Middle East and North Africa Subcommittee, continues to focus on international issues, including the current tensions with North Korea and China.
Last week, Ros-Lehtinen and U.S. Rep. Claudia Tenney, R-NY, wrapped up a tour of Asia with stops in South Korea, Taiwan and India as they focused on growing tensions in the region. The congresswomen met with American military personnel in South Korea and that country’s military leaders.
On Friday, Ros-Lehtinen called for the U.S. to work closely with South Korea against the Kim regime in North Korea.
“With an inter-Korean summit set for later this month, this is a critical time for U.S.-North Korea policy.” she said. “We must be in lockstep with our South Korean partners as we push for denuclearization in the North and ensure that human rights is a significant piece of our overall strategy. The pressure from sanctions is responsible for Pyongyang’s current willingness to talk and that pressure must be increased in order to extract concessions on the regime’s nuclear program. It was an honor to meet with our service members stationed in Seoul and learn about their role countering the North Korean threat.”
Ros-Lehtinen and Tenney also met with Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen and Foreign Minister Joseph Wu. Taiwan honored Ros-Lehtinen with the Order of Propitious Clouds with Special Grand Cordon for her work on building relations between the two countries. She praised that nation as a key American ally on Friday.
“Taiwan is an important economic and security partner facing constant Chinese pressure and coercion,” Ros-Lehtinen noted. “With a democracy that is the polar opposite of Beijing’s repression, Taiwan is the natural ally of the United States and it is important that we facilitate high level visits and provide the necessary tools to defend against the Chinese threat. We must also help counter Beijing’s campaign against Taiwan’s diplomatic allies, especially in Latin America, by firming up our ties and substituting real cooperation for Beijing’s false promises. I was deeply honored to be recognized by President Tsai for my role in helping strengthen U.S.-Taiwan relations and look forward to continuing to work with our partner in the future.”
In her visit to India, Ros-Lehtinen met the Dali Lama and called for the U.S. to do more to help Tibet against China.
“The Tibetan issue is not only one of morality and justice but of U.S. security interests as Beijing implements increasingly repressive and destabilizing policies with far reaching consequences,” she said. “I was blessed to discuss with His Holiness the Dalai Lama and the Tibetan exile community in Dharamsala their plight facing Chinese aggression and how Congress can advance U.S. interests by promoting Tibetan freedom. The administration must appoint a Special Coordinator for Tibet as mandated by law and press Beijing to reopen official negotiations with the representatives of the Dalai Lama to find a lasting solution to a human rights issue that threatens stability on the Tibetan plateau.”
First elected to Congress in a special election in 1989, Ros-Lehtinen is not running again for reelection this year. She is currently the longest serving member of the Florida delegation.