Remarks at Republic of Korea's Ministry of Foreign Affairs

Daniel R. Russel
Assistant Secretary, Bureau of East Asian and Pacific Affairs
David Shear, Assistant Secretary of Defense for Asian and Pacific Security Affairs
Seoul, South Korea
October 6, 2014

ASSISTANT SECRETARY RUSSEL: Hello everyone. As I said earlier, I’m very pleased to be here in Seoul with my good friend and my new colleague as the Assistant Secretary of Defense Dave Shear. Assistant Secretary Shear and I have just had very good, very substantive discussions in the Foreign Ministry. We had a long session with Deputy Foreign Minister Lee and Foreign Minister Yun was kind enough to sit down with us as well. We discussed the global cooperation that the two countries are embarked in on a range of challenges, everything from, from the threat from ISIL and foreign fighters in Iraq and Syria, to our efforts to stem the problem of Ebola in West Africa, and beyond.

We discussed our bilateral relationship and agree that it is in very solid, very good shape. Both on the alliance front and in the broader partnership that spans political, economic, diplomatic, and people-to-people areas. And we also discussed regional issues, including the relations between Japan and Korea, which are hugely important to the region and to the United States. And the recent visit to Seoul of the North Korean NDC Vice Chairman Mr. Hwang and that connection. I made clear that as is a consistent element of U.S. policy, the U.S. supports the efforts on the part of the ROK to promote and enhance inter-Korean relations.

We are going from here to meet with officials at the Blue House. There are still more discussions and briefings ahead including on the issue of the DPRK and North-South relations so I don’t think we have very much to add. But as always we’ve found the consultations in Seoul to be very direct, very useful, very collaborative.

ASSISTANT SECRETARY SHEAR: Thank you, Danny. This is my first stop on my first overseas trip as Assistant Secretary of Defense. I’ve worked on Korean peninsula affairs throughout my career. I’ve made a lot of friends. So I’m coming back to reacquaint myself with my old friends and colleagues as well as to make some new acquaintances. In addition to the meetings I’ll be having with Danny here today, I’ll be meeting with the Defense Minister later this afternoon, in which we’ll be discussing the full range of U.S.-ROK defense relations. I’m glad to be back and I look forward to working on this great relationship.

ASSISTANT SECRETARY RUSSEL: Great, thank you all very much.

QUESTION: Did you discuss about the situation revising Japan’s Defense Cooperation Guidelines with the South Korean government?

ASSISTANT SECRETARY RUSSEL: Well, I’ll just say one word on that with Assistant Secretary Shear. One of the issues that we touched on and Assistant Secretary Shear will continue to discuss is the status of our efforts to modernize our alliance with Japan, much the way we have made significant headway in modernizing our alliance with the ROK. And so, as part of our ongoing deliberations and consultations, we had a chance to share and to preview with the ROK government our thinking and our plans with regard to the ongoing U.S.-Japan Defense Guidelines Review. I know that the government of Japan, similarly, has that kind of open and direct dialogue through appropriate channels. This enables us to ensure that a vitally important partner, the Republic of Korea, has full visibility into the positive agenda that we are working on.

ASSISTANT SECRETARY SHEAR: This Guidelines revision will not only strengthen U.S.-Japan relations but it will strengthen peace and stability throughout the region and of course as this process unfolds we’re going to want to stay in close touch with our Korean partners on this. Thank you.