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Royce welcomes S. Korea's decision to shut down Kaesong complex

2016/02/12 03:15

WASHINGTON, Feb. 11 (Yonhap) -- The chairman of the U.S. House Foreign Affairs Committee on Thusday welcomed South Korea's decision to shut down a joint industrial complex in North Korea in response to Pyongyang's nuclear and missile tests.

South Korea announced earlier this week that it will suspend the operation of the Kaesong Industrial Complex, a decision that was seen as the strongest non-military measure Seoul could take to punish Pyongyang for its banned nuclear and missile tests.

"I also want to commend South Korea's decision to shutter the Kaesong industrial complex in response to Pyongyang's latest dangerous acts. Russia and China need to follow suit," Rep. Ed Royce (R-Calif.), who chairs the Foreign Affairs Committee, said in a statement.

The complex, which combines South Korean capital and cheap North Korean labor, is considered the last remaining symbol of inter-Korean reconciliation, but has long been accused by conservatives of being used to fund the North's nuclear and missile programs.

The North responded to Seoul's decision by expelling South Korean personnel and seizing assets in the complex.

Royce has called for stronger sanctions on North Korea. His legislation, the North Korea Sanctions Enforcement Act of 2016, unanimously passed the Senate on Wednesday.

"Applying effective financial pressure on the Kim regime is our best bet to end North Korea's threats," Royce said, referring to North Korean leader Kim Jong-un. "I am glad the U.S. Senate passed my bill to isolate Kim Jong-un and his top officials from the hard currency that sustains their rule, and hope to quickly get this legislation to President Obama's desk."

   Royce said he held a meeting with South Korean Ambassador Ahn Ho-young after the bill's passage on Wednesday and discussed the "U.S.-South Korean commitment to maintaining peace and stability on the Korean peninsula and the region."