Earlier this month, U.S. Sen. Jon Ossoff of Georgia was one of six congressional delegates on a high-level Asia trip that included meetings with the presidents of China and South Korea before it was cut short as war broke out in Gaza.
Mr. Ossoff traveled with the bipartisan group led by Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and included one other Senate Democrat and three Republicans.
The group was slated to be in Japan at the same time as delegates from Georgia and other Southeastern states attending a major conference, but they returned soon after the Oct. 7 Hamas terrorist attacks precipitated retaliatory strikes by Israel.
In China, Mr. Ossoff was in the room when the group met with President Xi Jinping, the Communist Party leader who has presided over an authoritarian turn in the country that U.S. officials blame in part for the current low point in bilateral relations.
While the trip was ostensibly designed to improve dialogue with China ahead of Mr. Xi’s visit to the U.S. and a possible meeting with U.S. President Joe Biden at the November APEC Summit in San Francisco, the headlines from the trip took a different turn as Mr. Schumer called for China to take a firmer stance condemning the Hamas terror attacks in Israel.
“When I met with President Xi, I pointed out to President Xi that their initial statement on the conflagration in the Middle East didn’t even mention terrorism or the deaths of innocent civilians,” Mr. Schumer later said in remarks on the Senate floor. “I respectfully requested that he change his statement and they did strengthen their initial statement relating to the attacks. The rest of the world must do the same, must acknowledge and condemn the attacks, the brutal attacks that occurred this week.”
Soon after the Asia mission was cut short, Mr. Schumer led a delegation of senators to Israel to show U.S. support amid the war.
According to a statement on Mr. Ossoff’s website, he spoke with Israeli President Isaac Herzog from the U.S. Embassy in Beijing on Oct. 10, conveying his outrage at the attacks and his support for Israel.
Georgia’s first Jewish senator also spoke with Anat Sultan-Dadon, Israel’s consul general to the Southeast U.S., by phone and received briefings on the situation in Israel from the State Department and national security officials while in Beijing.
The group went on to South Korea, where they met with President Yoon Suk Yeol and discussed a variety of economic and security collaborations. They were unable to continue on to Japan, where they were to meet with key Japanese leaders.
A spokesperson for Mr. Ossoff, who has put significant energy into helping Georgia position itself for billions of dollars in Korean clean-energy investment, had this to say about the trip:
“From his post on the Senate Intelligence Committee, Sen. Ossoff is relentlessly focused on U.S. national security, and he continues to champion Georgia as a destination for global investment Sen. Ossoff will travel to Asia for high-level engagements to advance U.S. national security interests and Georgia’s economic interests in the region.”Ossoff spokesperson
It was Mr. Ossoff’s third visit to Korea since he took office in 2021, with the two prior missions designed to deepen economic ties with Georgia. He also helped found the Senate Korea Caucus earlier this year.
Burnishing his national security bona fides, Mr. Ossoff is also a member of the U.S. Senate Homeland Security Committee and sits on the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence.