WASHINGTON — Sen. Tammy Duckworth, D-Ill., a wounded Iraq war veteran, returned on Tuesday from an official trip to South Korea and Japan, where she toured the border with North Korea and met with regional military and diplomatic leaders, human rights activists and troops from Illinois.
In a statement, Duckworth said, “After visiting South Korea and Japan and meeting with many diplomats, military leaders and service members, it is clear that the costs of war in the Korean Peninsula would be catastrophic and claim countless military and civilian lives.
“It is equally clear that we need to maintain our strong alliances with South Korea and Japan and support our defense forces in the region to effectively deter North Korea,” said Senator Duckworth. “While I am encouraged by North Korea’s return to the negotiating table, we will not compromise on denuclearization.”
This trip was the first official Senate travel for Duckworth, who marks a year in the Senate this month.
Duckworth has been outspoken in urging President Donald Trump to be very aware of the potential consequences of his heated rhetoric, saying in a November letter to Trump, “As the drumbeat of war accelerates, the American people must understand the potential consequences of the United States engaging in armed conflict” against North Korea, she said in the letter, sent just before Trump starts on an extensive swing through Asia.
Duckworth’s call for an “accurate assessment” of what war will mean — from troop and civilian deaths to their later care as veterans — came as Trump was headed to Japan, South Korea, China, Vietnam and the Philippines last year.
Duckworth made the four-day trip with Rep. Ruben Gallego, D-Az., who is also a combat veteran.
The senator will deliver a speech at Georgetown University on Thursday night about the risks of a North Korean conflict.