Remarks on Recent Trip to Japan and South Korea

Kurt M. Campbell
Assistant Secretary, Bureau of East Asian and Pacific Affairs
Washington, DC
June 21, 2010

Hi, I’m Kurt Campbell. I’m the Assistant Secretary of State for East Asia and Pacific Affairs. Last week, I was asked by the Secretary and the President to travel to South Korea and Japan with my colleague and friend, Danny Russell from the White House.

In South Korea, we had deep, extensive discussions with our colleagues in the Blue House – that’s the presidential office in South Korea – and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Defense about our shared approach to the challenges that we’re facing since the tragic sinking of the Cheonan warship. We conveyed a very strong message from President Obama that the United States will stand with South Korea at the United Nations, in terms of our bilateral actions, including military exercises, and other steps that we will take to send a very strong message that provocations and undermining of the armistice, as we’ve seen in the past from North Korea, is completely unacceptable. I think we left South Korea quite reassured that both countries are on the same page and working very closely together.

Obviously, the President sent best wishes and looking forward to see President Myung-bak in Canada next week at the time of the meeting of the G-20.

In Tokyo, we had a chance to meet the new government and the key players who are helping shape the policies and agenda of the new prime minister, Prime Minister Kan. I must say that the United States is quite deeply reassured by the statements and the approach that this new government has taken in terms of reassuring both the United States and other countries in the region that at the centerpiece of their strategy is a desire to maintain a very strong relationship between Washington and Tokyo.

In all of our meetings, the central point was that the United States and Japan must work together closely on the broad range of issues that are confronting peace and stability, not just in the Asian Pacific region, but across the world. And I think, again, we left Tokyo with a stronger sense of confidence that our two sides are on the same page in terms of the steps ahead.

So it was a successful trip. We were very grateful for the chance for such high-level meetings in both countries. And we look forward to the next steps in our diplomacy in Northeast Asia.

Thank you all very much.