Remarks to the Press at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade of South Korea

Kurt M. Campbell
Assistant Secretary, Bureau of East Asian and Pacific Affairs
Seoul, South Korea
April 16, 2012

ASSISTANT SECRETARY KURT CAMPBELL: I have a quick statement that I would like to make and then I would be happy to take a couple of your questions. I apologize; we are going to the Defense Ministry so I am a fairly tight schedule.

First of all, I want to thank my colleague and good friend the Deputy Minister, Foreign Minister Kim Jae-shin for hosting me today at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs -- it's always good to see him and to be here in Seoul.

Today, I had a very productive meeting with Foreign Minister Kim, Deputy Foreign Minister Kim, and Special Representative Lim Sung-nam. I will also have meetings with colleagues from the Blue House later this evening, and I will be proceeding to the Defense Ministry directly. As President Obama stated last month, the U.S.-ROK alliance has never been stronger, and the U.S. remains fully committed to the defense of the ROK.

Our two countries are working to further enhance our defense cooperation in many ways. I look forward to meeting the Defense Minister Kim to discuss ways to further strengthen our alliance in these circumstances.

We are taking steps to deepen every aspect of our relationship, from economic and trade ties to people-to-people exchanges. We continue to also cooperate closely on a number of pressing regional and global issues ranging from Iran to developments in Afghanistan, Burma, and our upcoming diplomacy at the ASEAN Regional Forum.

Specifically, on North Korea: We remain committed to closely coordinating and cooperating on potential next steps on North Korea. We agree that even though the launch was a failure, it was a provocative action that threatens international security, violates the DPRK's obligations under UN Security Council resolutions, and contravenes its own recent commitments. The international community is united in its strong determinations to discourage any further provocations from the DPRK. The U.S. and the ROK also agreed on the importance of maintaining close dialogue in cooperation with Tokyo, and Ambassador Davies and I look forward to convening a trilateral meeting in the coming months. I have just come from Japan and our interlocutors there support fully ongoing trilateral coordination.

With that I would be happy to take a couple of questions.

QUESTION: Why should we have any confidence in diplomacy or sanctions, considering that in light of what has happened so far we have had two nuclear tests and three missile launches?

ASSISTANT SECRETARY CAMPBELL: I would simply say that I believe that the concerted efforts of the various parties that you will see in terms of action at the United Nations, close coordination with Japan and South Korea, underscore our determination to meet provocations with very clear and firm coordination. I believe that that is the best possible response to what we have seen from North Korea.

QUESTION: Do you have any further comments on enhancing the capability of the deterrent capability of Korea?

ASSISTANT SECRETARY CAMPBELL: That’s an ongoing process. The United States and South Korea have worked for decades, and particularly, most recently, to continue a very strong vigilance and that will continue under every circumstance.

QUESTION: Are you expecting sanctions today?


QUESTION: Do you expect sanctions from the United Nations?

ASSISTANT SECRETARY CAMPBELL: There are consultations that are under way in New York led by Ambassador Susan Rice, and I think I will let that process play out. I know that we have had very close consultations with both South Korea and Japan, and I think both countries have indicated that they are very satisfied with the discussions that we have had about the matter.

QUESTION: How will your government respond to a North Korea nuclear test?

ASSISTANT SECRETARY CAMPBELL: I am not going to get into hypotheticals. All I will say is that there is a very strong determination among all the international partners, including China, Russia, Japan, South Korea – all the countries of Asia – to discourage any further provocations from North Korea. Last question.

QUESTION: Are there any construction of nuclear facilities still going on?

ASSISTANT SECRETARY CAMPBELL: I have nothing further on that; you will have to go directly to the IAEA on that. Thank you all very much.