Washington, D.C. — Until recently, we lived peacefully in our islands, secure in the knowledge that we were well away from the world's areas of potential conflict and war. But as Governor Lolo recently stated, North Korea is approaching the level of nuclear technology that even a remote place like American Samoa cannot feel entirely safe any longer.
Because of this new reality, I recently accepted an invitation from House Armed Services Readiness Subcommittee Chairman Joe Wilson, whose district includes Fort Jackson, South Carolina, to join his delegation for a fact finding trip to Asia. Chairman Wilson subsequently accepted my invitation to join me for a dinner meeting with Samoan soldiers stationed at Ft. Jackson, which was held last month.
Our Asia trip included a briefing beforehand, a visit to Pacific Command headquarters in Hawaii and a visit to the Korea demilitarized zone, where I was able to actually look into the eyes of North Korean border guards. I'm not quite sure what the guards were thinking when they saw among this group of men in business suits a woman in a strange outfit with a flower in her hair, but that's fine. I take our culture with me wherever I go.
When I visited Guam and Saipan, where my clothing was not so out of place, I could sense the public apprehension about their islands being on the American frontline in any war with North Korea. Like me, they all had high hopes for a Trump-Kim summit.
Just last week in Washington, I participated in a briefing of House members conducted by new CIA Director Gina Haspel, the first woman in history to hold that position. I feel reassured that our intelligence efforts are in good hands. The President has said publicly he was able to extract a pledge from North Korea to destroy a major missile engine testing site that we could see by satellite. It is important for the Koreans to know that our intelligence is capable of verifying that they are redeeming their pledges.
So, I can tell you that my heart is filled with gratitude today at President Trump's historic meeting with North Korea leader Kim Jong-un, which has broken the tension, developed a potential framework for eliminating nuclear weapons from the Korean peninsula for all time and could even set the Hermit Kingdom on a course toward prosperity and a path for joining the community of nations in peace and harmony.
Singapore is only a beginning and there is much work to be done. American sanctions remain in place and American troops are not being removed from South Korea as part of the negotiations. So, perhaps American Samoa's major contribution to this process will continue to be sending our sons and daughters to be part of the American forces stationed in South Korea's defense. For my part, I will do all that I can to be supportive representing our people in the U.S. House.
Thank you, Mr. President. You have my full support for your historic initiative and the prayers of our people for success in bringing peace to the Korean peninsula and thereby to Asia and the world.