Remarks at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade in Seoul

Kurt M. Campbell
Assistant Secretary, Bureau of East Asian and Pacific Affairs
Seoul, South Korea
April 2, 2010

ASSISTANT SECRETARY CAMPBELL: Good afternoon everyone. It is wonderful to be back in Korea, to be visiting with our excellent Ambassador here, Ambassador Stephens. We are here for consultations on a wide range of issues. But first, we were able to offer our deep sympathies, and our prayers, and our well wishes for the tragic sinking of the Korean warship. Obviously the United States Government has offered support. We will do everything possible operationally to support our Korean friends during this difficult time.

President Obama spoke with President Lee Myung-bak earlier this week about the sinking, pledged strong American support, and he also made plans with our Korean friends about the upcoming Summit on nuclear matters in the United States. During my meetings here with the National Security Advisor and with colleagues in the Foreign Ministry, we are continuing our close coordination and cooperation on our diplomatic efforts to try to get North Korea to return to the Six-Party Talks. We are very pleased at how closely our two countries continue to work together. We also exchanged views on our mutual goals in terms of architectural issues in Asia, and how the United States can be more actively involved in those deliberations in the time ahead.

We talked about regional security issues and other aspects associated with Korea’s ambitious plans to be more actively engaged in global developments, the so-called ‘Global Korea,’ which the United States is strongly supportive of, not only efforts in Afghanistan, but Haiti and elsewhere. I must just say quickly that we are very gratified at how strong our support and our dialogue has been with our Korean friends and we look forward to continue this process of deep engagement in the time ahead. And I know President Obama is not only looking forward to welcoming President Lee Myung-bak to Washington at a critical time, the 60th anniversary upcoming, but also he is looking forward to visiting Korea later this year at the time of the G-20. I can take a couple of questions and then I am off to the next meeting, so please go ahead, and identify yourself if you would please.

QUESTION: Does the upcoming NPR have any effect on the nuclear deterrent the U.S. is providing to Korea?

ASSISTANT SECRETARY CAMPBELL: No. In fact, more details will be available soon in that regard, but the architects of the NPR have taken into consideration the very important considerations on the Korean Peninsula. We recognize the importance of the American extended deterrence here for the maintenance of peace and stability, and we remain very strongly committed to, to the preservation of peace and stability here.

QUESTION: Sir I want to ask about Mahli Gomes’ health, Kurt Achin with VOA.


QUESTION: The detainee in North Korea, do you have any details?

ASSISTANT SECRETARY CAMPBELL: I must say that I have been travelling the last couple of days, so I don’t have anything further. You will have to check with the Embassy on that if you would please. Sorry, I have been in India, and so I am not up to speed on his current health situation.

QUESTION: Sir, what do you think of the recent news on Kim Jong-il’s imminent visit to China?

ASSISTANT SECRETARY CAMPBELL: We, we, it’s just speculation at this juncture. We have had some discussions with our counterparts here, and we will obviously be following those events closely. We are closely in touch with China. We have asked them to assist us in efforts to encourage strongly North Korea to return expeditiously to the Six-Party Talks.

QUESTION: Sir, John Herskovitz from Reuters. Are you worried that North Korea’s call for increased investment may be in violation of UN sanctions?

ASSISTANT SECRETARY CAMPBELL: I will say that the United States and its allies have a strong desire to maintain the existing sanction regime, 1874, until steps are taken on the part of the North Koreans to fulfill its commitments made in 2005 and 2007.

Anyone else? I’ll take one or two more questions, thanks.

QUESTION: Sir, can you give us more specifications, specifics about the operational support for, about the navy sinking, the navy ship?

ASSISTANT SECRETARY CAMPBELL: I think there has been a briefing that has been provided by our U.S. forces here. We have, I think about four ships on scene, and some substantial support to our Korean friends. They are in the lead, and we are supporting them where we can, and we will assist them if they desire in terms of both efforts to recover the ship and other aspects associated with determining the cause of the tragic accident.

QUESTION: What do you think about the possibility that North Korea could have been involved?

ASSISTANT SECRETARY CAMPBELL: I am just not going to speculate. I just want you to know that the United States has complete confidence in the South Korean Government to conduct this investigation, and we will stand behind them completely in this effort.

QUESTION: On Futenma, do you think the Futenma issue is having an impact on how the U.S. decides to see Korea, [inaudible] the U.S. and Korea?

ASSISTANT SECRETARY CAMPBELL: No. No, I think that we have a lot of confidence in the process of dialogue with our Japanese friends. We will resolve the Futenma, the FRF effort. The Japanese Government has been very clear that they want to make sure that we take expeditious steps and hopefully have a resolution in the May timeframe, and we are working closely with Japanese friends on some ideas as we speak. Ok, thank you very much. Appreciate it.