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U.S. lawmakers urge S. Korea to pass FTA

WASHINGTON (Yonhap News) -- While celebrating the recent passage in the U.S. Congress of a free trade agreement (FTA) with South Korea, lawmakers here on Wednesday voiced bipartisan demand for their counterparts in Asia to follow suit.

“We’ve all waited enough. I hope it will take into effect as soon as practicable,” Rep. David Camp (R-Michigan), who chairs the House Ways and Means Committee, told Yonhap News Agency.

He was attending a reception to celebrate the passage of the FTA in the U.S. last month. More than two dozen other members of Congress joined the event at the Cannon Building of the House of Representatives.

The celebratory mood was a bit overshadowed by partisan strife over the FTA in South Korea’s parliament. Liberal opposition parties are strongly opposed to a quick ratification of the accord, calling for re-negotiations on some terms.

The ruling Grand National Party, which dominates the parliament, is pushing for the passage of the agreement by next week. In Seoul, the chairman of the National Assembly‘s foreign affairs and trade committee on Wednesday invoked his authority to table the deal for a vote, braving a clash with the main opposition Democratic Party.

Camp stressed that the passage of the FTA will be beneficial to South Korea and the U.S. alike.

“It’s a win-win,” he said.

He expressed hope that South Korean lawmakers show a strong support for the FTA in a vote as U.S. lawmakers did in their chambers.

Rep. Jim McDermott (D-Washington) used more blunt wordings to press South Korea’s political world to act, saying it does not make sense for the main opposition party to put brakes on a deal that it once supported. The FTA was signed in 2007 when the DP was the governing party.

“I don’t understand Korean politics, but it makes no sense because we passed it bipartisan because it was a good policy for our relationship with Korea,” he said.

He said time will come for South Korea’s politicians to put power politics aside and do the right thing.

South Korea’s ambassador to Washington Han Duck-soo refused to be drawn into a question on the political situation in Seoul.