Meeting with Republic of Korea President-elect Park Geun-hye at Her Office

Kurt M. Campbell
Assistant Secretary, Bureau of East Asian and Pacific Affairs
Daniel Russel, National Security Council Senior Director for Asian Affairs, and Mark Lippert, Assistant Secretary of Defense
Seoul, South Korea
January 16, 2013

The video is available with closed captioning on YouTube.

PRESIDENT-ELECT PARK GEUN-HYE (through interpreter): It is my understanding that the members of the delegation here represent the key offices of the U.S. government that deals with Asia policy as well as foreign policy.

I am very delighted to be able to meet with you (inaudible) prior to the inauguration of my new administration.

I am very grateful for the fact that President Obama graciously gave me a call to congratulate me on my election, and in addition to that, sending this message through you, and sending this delegation. So please do convey my sense of appreciation and gratitude to President Obama.

I was deeply saddened to hear that Secretary Clinton had been hospitalized. I ask that please, when you return to Washington please do convey to her my best wishes for her quick recovery.

ASSISTANT SECRETARY CAMPBELL: Thank you very much. President-elect, thank you very much for the honor of meeting with our delegation. We have just had a very good session with the key members of your transition team, and we were very impressed by the very clear road map that they laid out for maintaining very strong relations between the United States and South Korea.

I would like to take this opportunity to formally present to you letters of appreciation and congratulations from President Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to you directly.

Let me just say, Madam President-elect, that we are here on a mission with a strong, inter-agency team including my friends Danny Russel from the White House and Mark Lippert from the Department of Defense. We have had the opportunity to convey our respects and appreciation to the outgoing administration, and we are busy engaging actively with your incoming team to underscore the strongest possible determination to maintain a relationship of trust and confidence between our two countries.

I would like to ask Danny Russel to say a few words, but I want you to know that we have in Ambassador Sung Kim our very best. He is our best diplomatic asset in Asia. He has the full trust of everyone he works with, both in Korea and the United States. We are thrilled that he is here at such a critical time.

PRESIDENT-ELECT PARK: We, too, are delighted to have him here as Ambassador as well.

SENIOR DIRECTOR RUSSEL: Madam President-elect, President Obama sends his very warmest regards and wants you to know that he is deeply committed to the U.S.-ROK alliance, to close cooperation and communication with you and with your team.

He intends to send an appropriately distinguished delegation to attend your inauguration next month, and also very much looks forward to meeting with you in person.

PRESIDENT-ELECT PARK: Please do communicate my gratitude to President Obama. In fact, when we spoke over the phone last time he had kindly invited me to visit the United States. I, too, look very much forward to visiting the United States and to form a relationship based on trust with President Obama.

The United States will soon be starting President Obama’s second term in office, and Korea will also be inaugurating a new government. I very much look forward to further reinforcing the already robust and strong relationship that exists between our two countries, and I will endeavor to do so.

ASSISTANT SECRETARY CAMPBELL: Madam President-elect, Mark Lippert is the key player at the Defense Department on our relations in the Asia-Pacific region. He has been personally as devoted to (inaudible) focus on ensuring our best partnership (inaudible) alliance.

ASSISTANT SECRETARY LIPPERT: Madam President-elect, Secretary Panetta sends his warm and deep regards and congratulates you on your recent election.

As you know, we view the security relationship as the bedrock and the foundation of this great alliance.

The President and the Secretary and all of our men and women in uniform are deeply committed to working with your administration to deepen and strengthen the military readiness capabilities and the security on the Korean Peninsula.

We look forward in the coming months and years to deepening and strengthening this great alliance and taking it to unprecedented levels to promote peace and prosperity on the Korean Peninsula and throughout Asia. Thank you.

PRESIDENT-ELECT PARK: Please send my gratitude to Secretary Panetta for his kind words.

This year marks the 60th anniversary of our alliance relationship, and it can be said that in hindsight, peace and prosperity on the Korean Peninsula owes a great deal to the robust alliance relationship that we have had.

I believe the freedom that we enjoy today, as well as the economic developments that we have been able to enjoy, did not come free. They are the results of the joint efforts of our two sides to overcome and deal with the various challenges and the difficulties that we have faced.

And at the same time our two countries are working very closely together to uphold peace throughout the world as well as support economic development throughout the world.

So, as we mark the 60th anniversary of the Korea-U.S. alliance relationship, we sincerely hope that we can look forward to greater cooperation in the years ahead.

In order for us to (inaudible) a comprehensive strategic alliance, strategic partnership, as becoming of the 21st century, I strongly believe that we need to build upon the foundation of solving trust between our two sides and to work together more closely.

It is my belief that with regard to the various outstanding issues that we have between our two sides, if we engage in consultations on the basis of trust, I am sure that we can look forward to an amicable resolution.

ASSISTANT SECRETARY CAMPBELL: Thank you very much, Madam President-elect. Let me just say that we share very much (inaudible) the approach that you have just laid out. We have managed over the course of the last several years to deal with constructively, effectively, every challenge that has confronted us, and we are committed to do the same going forward.