Park Thanks U.S. Lawmaker Over Sex Slavery Victims

President Park Geun-hye greets Chairman Ed Royce and other members of the U.S. House Foreign Affairs Committee at Cheong Wa Dae on Tuesday. /Newsis President Park Geun-hye greets Chairman Ed Royce and other members of the U.S. House Foreign Affairs Committee at Cheong Wa Dae on Tuesday. /Newsis

President Park Geun-hye on Tuesday thanked the chairman of the U.S. House Foreign Affairs Committee, Ed Royce, for paying his respects to women forced into sexual slavery by the Japanese Imperial Army.

Park met Royce at Cheong Wa Dae and said it is "urgent to resolve" the issue of the victims "as soon as possible."

She told Royce that Koreans were touched by Royce's visit to the statue of a victim in Glendale, California and that he kneeled before a portrait of Hwang Kum-ja, a former victim who died recently.

"Many victims who suffered indelible pain when they were young girls have died. Another died last year. And there are only 55 of them left," Park added.

The previous day Royce visited Japan, where he criticized Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe for his recent visit to the Yasukuni Shrine, which honors war criminals among the country’s fallen.

"I have urged leaders in Japan to disavow hurtful comments about the past, and I think it's very important that all nations recognize the truth of what has happened in the past," Royce told Korean journalists.

englishnews@chosun.com / Feb. 19, 2014 09:35 KST