(ATTN: UPDATES with Pelosi's remarks in paras 6-10, photo)
By Lee Minji and Kim Na-young
SEOUL, Aug. 4 (Yonhap) -- National Assembly Speaker Kim Jin-pyo and U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said Thursday they agreed to support efforts by Seoul and Washington for the denuclearization of North Korea, voicing concerns over the North's escalating threats.
"The two sides expressed concern over the grave situation in which North Korea's level of threat is heightening," said Kim, reading a joint press statement following a meeting between the two speakers.
"Based on a powerful and extended deterrence against North Korea that our public can recognize, we agree to support the two governments' efforts for denuclearization and peace through international cooperation and diplomatic dialogues," the statement said.
The speakers noted the expanding ties between the allies, mentioning how the South Korea-U.S. alliance has been widening to areas, such as defense security, the economy and technology.
To better support these ties, Kim said the speakers agreed on reviewing a resolution marking the 70th anniversary of the alliance between the two countries.
Calling security, economics and governance the "three pillars" of the congressional delegation's visit here, Pelosi emphasized that the relationship between Seoul and Washington in these areas is "very strong" and that the two countries "learn from each other."
"This is special for us because the U.S.-Republic of Korea relationship is special to us," she said, noting how "a relationship that began from urgency and security many years ago has become the warmest of friendships."
Pelosi proposed strengthening ties on a congressional level.
"We want to strengthen that interparliamentary role as we work together as countries," she said. "It's shared values. It's about fighting the pandemic. It's about saving the planet. So many things to discuss, so much opportunity better served by a discussion in the interparliamentary level as well as in addition to the heads of state and heads of state."
The U.S. speaker also voiced gratitude for Seoul's role in supporting Ukraine against Russia's invasion.
North Korea has conducted a series of short- to long-range missile tests so far this year and has widely been expected to carry out what would be its seventh nuclear test.
Thursday's meeting came amid heightened tensions between the U.S. and China in the wake of her high-profile visit to Taiwan.
Pelosi arrived in Seoul on Wednesday night from Taiwan where she reaffirmed unwavering U.S. commitment to supporting the island's democracy. China denounced her trip to Taiwan, which it regards as a renegade province, and announced live-fire military drills around the island.
Her two-day trip also includes a visit to the inter-Korean truce village of Panmunjom later Thursday. She is also expected to speak by phone with President Yoon Suk-yeol, who is currently on holiday.
Pelosi's delegation includes House Foreign Affairs Committee Chair Gregory Meeks and House Veterans Affairs Committee Chair Mark Takano, as well as other lawmakers, such as Suzan DelBene, Raja Krishnamoorthi and Andy Kim.
South Korea is one of the legs on Pelosi's Asian tour that already has taken her to Singapore, Malaysia and Taiwan. After South Korea, she plans to visit Japan. Pelosi is the first U.S. House speaker to visit South Korea since former Speaker Dennis Hastert in 2002.
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