Remarks With Republic of Korea Deputy Foreign Minister Kim Jae Shin

Kurt M. Campbell
Assistant Secretary, Bureau of East Asian and Pacific Affairs
Westin Chosun Hotel
Seoul, South Korea
October 27, 2011


ASSISTANT SECRETARY CAMPBELL: Thank you very much and I apologize for having you all have to come out so early in the morning. I want to thank particularly my friend Minister Kim for assembling his team so that we could have discussions this morning. I’m on a trip throughout Asia for several things. First of all, to brief our allies and friends about the discussions that took place in Geneva between the US and North Korea. We’re obviously deeply involved in preparations for the East Asia Summit where President Obama will be joining the East Asia Summit on behalf of the United States for the first time. We’ll be hosting APEC in Hawaii, in Honolulu, his hometown next month so there is an enormous amount of preparatory work that needs to take place.

I should say that we began our discussion this morning with some small degree of deep personal satisfaction. We were both very pleased with how the summit between our two leaders was conducted in Washington. I think it was an extraordinary achievement. It’s a celebration of our close alliance. But I think one of the things that both the United States and South Korea agreed was that we cannot rest on our laurels. This is not simply a celebration. It is a work in progress. And so we are determined to continue close coordination. That’s why I’m here in Korea today.

In the discussion about the talks that took place between the United States and North Korea in Geneva, we compared notes. I fully debriefed Deputy Minister Kim on all aspects of our discussions. This is one of several discussions that have taken place. Our new Ambassador, Ambassador Davies, was in contact with his counterpart. Ambassador Ford Hart regularly debriefed the South Korean delegate who was also in Geneva. So we are in incredibly close touch on all aspects of the discussions.

I think it would be fair to say that we did make some progress. There were no breakthroughs. There is a substantial amount of work that needs to be done. No decisions have been taken about next steps. And one of the reasons that we’re here is to begin a process of deep discussion with South Korea so that we can plot our course going forward. In all of our sessions with North Korea, we underscored the need for a continuing process of dialogue between the North and the South going forward.

In addition to those discussions, we also talked about the East Asia Summit. The United States and South Korea are fully aligned on our approach to several critical issues. The United States is going to introduce some topics associated with maritime security. I think South Korea and the United States are fully onboard with a mutual approach. And we acknowledge the need to maintain peace and stability, to deal with maritime issues through appropriate legal channels based on clear principles and the law of the sea. We talked about taking necessary steps that will allow countries to be able to respond collectively to disasters like the flooding in Thailand or the nuclear crisis in Japan or challenges that we’ve seen in the past in Aceh. There’s enormous capacity in Asia for disaster response but it’s poorly coordinated and we are seeking to take steps at the East Asia Summit to improve that capacity. And lastly, both the United States and South Korea are going to work closely together to ensure that there is important progress on nonproliferation-related topics in the East Asia Summit. So I would simply say that we are working very closely together. We want to continue the very close coordination that was celebrated in Washington and I am happy to take a few questions before I rush to the airport.

QUESTION: [Inaudible]

ASSISTANT SECRETARY CAMPBELL: Yes? I’m going back to Washington and then will be going to Hawaii in a few days to make preparations for APEC.

QUESTION: [Inaudible]

ASSISTANT SECRETARY CAMPBELL: Well frankly, we are still in the process of going carefully through every aspect of what was a full day and a half of talks. I think as I indicated, we did make some progress, clearly stated our position on pre-steps, those were carefully coordinated with South Korea, but as I indicated, we still have some work to do.

QUESTION: [Inaudible]

ASSISTANT SECRETARY CAMPBELL: Look, it’s always useful to be able to sit down in a businesslike fashion to go over mutual approaches. We were able, after close coordination with South Korea, to lay out what we think is necessary with regard to pre-steps that will allow us to return to the Six Party Talks. I think those discussions were proper and we were able to be very, very clear about what our joint expectations are for going forward. I can take one last question.

QUESTION: [Inaudible]

ASSISTANT SECRETARY CAMPBELL: Personally, we didn’t get into those details in Geneva or in our discussions today. I think what’s of critical importance is to ensure that the United States and South Korea are extraordinarily closely coordinated on all aspects of our diplomacy and that’s exactly what we are doing. And that is what we will do going forward. Thank you all very much.