The floor leaders of South Korea's three largest parties the ruling Democratic Party, the main opposition Liberty Korea Party and the centrist Bareunmirae Party-embarked on a five day trip to Washington on Wednesday, to explain the National Assembly's united stance on defense cost sharing.
Speaking to reporters at the airport before departure, ruling party floor leader Lee In-young vowed to stress to his American counterparts the importance of each side shouldering a reasonable and fair share of the defense burden.
"We will combine efforts to pursue fair and reasonable defense-cost negotiations with the U.S. on the basis of mutual respect and trust coming from our alliance."
Main opposition Liberty Korea Party floor leader Na Kyung-won also promised bipartisan efforts to make the defense-cost sharing talks helpful for the development of the Seoul-Washington alliance, which she claims is in crisis.
"In order to further develop the Seoul-Washington alliance, the defense-cost sharing talks should be rational and fair. We will stress that the importance of maintaining strong ties will benefit both countries."
Centrist Bareunmirae Party floor leader Oh Shin-hwan meanwhile pledged to join hands with the ruling and main opposition parties to reach a breakthrough using parliamentary diplomacy.
"The rival parties share the same stance when it comes to diplomatic and security issues. For this visit, I will exert my utmost efforts to deliver Seoul's perspective with the mindset of the ruling party."
The lawmakers will meet with their counterparts from the upper and lower houses, such as Senator Charles Grassley and Representative James Clyburn.
They are also scheduled to hold talks with Washington's Special Representative for North Korea Stephen Biegun on the progress of denuclearization negotiations with Pyeongyang.
Though the rival parties are all calling for a fair and reasonable sharing of the defense costs, the ruling party seems to be sterner to the extent of vetoing the cost at the National Assembly.
The opposition meanwhile seems to be more cautious of Korea's relationship with Washington.
"With the slight difference in their perspective, it remains to be seen whether the floor leaders can bring about a concrete outcome through this latest visit.
The three lawmakers will wrap up their trip on Saturday and return to South Korea on Sunday."
Kim Mok-yeon, Arirang News.