Kelly Visits Key Asian Partners with Bipartisan Congressional Delegation

Kelly spoke with U.S. military leaders stationed abroad, including at the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) in Korea 

Kelly met with foreign leaders about economic and security cooperation, especially in light of Chinese aggression in the South China Sea 

To download photos, click here 

This weekend, Arizona Senator Mark Kelly returned from a bipartisan congressional delegation trip to the Philippines, Vietnam, South Korea, and Japan where he met with U.S. military and foreign leaders about China’s aggression in the South China Sea and opportunities for increased economic and security cooperation with partners and allies in the region. Kelly was stationed at Naval Air Facility Atsugi, Japan, for three years of his service in the U.S. Navy, from which he deployed across the region on the aircraft carrier U.S.S. Midway, including frequent stops in the Philippines and South Korea.   

Sen. Kelly meets with South Korean President Yoon

“The Pacific region is critical to the future of our economy and our national security,” said Kelly. “It’s where we must strengthen defense and maritime cooperation to counter Chinese aggression in the South China Sea and prevent a costly conflict from breaking out. And it’s also where we must deepen economic ties to grow new markets and reduce reliance on Chinese supply chains. What I heard from our allies and partners on this trip was appreciation for the U.S. role in promoting growth and stability, and I’ll continue working to strengthen these ties to the benefit of our state and our country.” 

In the Philippines, Kelly visited the Manila American Cemetery, where U.S. servicemembers killed in or missing from the Pacific Theater of the Second World War are buried or commemorated. Kelly and the delegation then met with the Foreign Secretary and President Marcos, where he shared his connection to the Philippines from visiting on port calls and detachments when he was in the Navy, and asked about progress to modernize the Philippine military and implement the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement between our countries.  

Sen. Kelly at the Manila American Cemetery 

In Vietnam, Kelly met with Vietnamese leaders and shared the significance of his representing the seat once held by Senator McCain, who was shot down during the Vietnam War, held and tortured as a prisoner of war, and then became a critical voice in the reconciliation between the United States and Vietnam. Kelly visited the McCain Marker where McCain was captured and the Hoa Lo prison where he was held and tortured. The United States and Vietnam elevated their relationship to a Comprehensive Strategic Partnership late last year, and the delegation spoke with Vietnamese leaders about opportunities for increased economic and security cooperation. Kelly, a former astronaut, also made a visit to the Vietnam National Space Center to promote increased space cooperation.  

Sen. Kelly at the McCain Marker in Hanoi 

In South Korea, Kelly was briefed by Commander of U.S. Forces Korea General Paul LaCamera and visited U.S. and Korean troops in the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) between South and North Korea to see their operations. Kelly and the delegation also met with the Korean Minister of Defense and President Yoon, where they discussed the importance of U.S.-Korea joint military operations and security cooperation to deter North Korean aggression.

Sen. Kelly at the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) 

Finally, in Japan, Kelly visited the headquarters of the U.S. 7th Fleet in which he once served and was briefed by Vice Admiral Fred Kacher. Kelly also met with the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) about U.S.-Japan space cooperation, including Japan’s significant contributions to the Artemis Program to return to the moon. Kelly and the delegation met with the Defense Minister and Prime Minister Kishida about U.S.-Japan security cooperation and the modernization of Japan’s defenses. 

To view an album of pictures from the trip, click here.