U.S. Sen. Max Cleland (D-Ga.) has been making the most of his Georgia contacts including those in the Korean community and the military to learn as much as he can about Korea before he makes his first visit to the country next month.

During an address at a luncheon of the Korea-Southeast U.S. Chamber of Commerce held at the World Trade Center downtown on July 6, Mr. Cleland announced that he would go to Korea as part of a trip to Asia in August. The visit, he added, would include time with U.S. troops in Korea’s demilitarized zone on his 58th birthday, Aug. 24.

He added that he was meeting with as many authorities in Georgia as possible to learn as much as he could about Korea “to evaluate our mutual economic, military and political interests…So much hinges on what happens in this part of the world.”

Mr. Cleland said that Korea has increasingly become important in security and economic discussions of the Senate Armed Services Committee and the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee on which he serves as relations between North and South Korea improve.

He already has visited with John Lee, who currently is the first vice president of the Korea-Southeast U.S. Chamber of Commerce and president of the Korea Town Association, and Sunny Park, founder and owner of the General Building Maintenance Inc. in the local Korean business community.

He also has visited James T. Laney, former U.S. ambassador to Korea and former president of Emory University.

Ray Davis, a retired four-star general from the U.S. Marine Corps, who holds more military decorations than any other living American and is a veteran of three wars including the Korean War, and William J. Livsey, a former commander of U.S. forces in Korea, are to provide the senator with their insights into security issues.

While in Korea, Mr. Cleland is to meet with Korea’s president, Kim dae Jung, Thomas Schwartz, the current commander of U.S. forces there, and Stephen W. Bosworth, the U.S. ambassador to Korea.

To learn more about the activities of the Korea-Southeast U.S. Chamber of Commerce, call (404) 843-0000.