Joint Statement of the 2014 United States - Republic of Korea Foreign and Defense Ministers' Meeting

Media Note
Office of the Spokesperson
Washington, DC
October 24, 2014


The text of the following statement was released by the Governments of the United States of America and the Republic of Korea on the occasion of the United States – Republic of Korea Foreign and Defense Ministers’ Meeting in Washington.

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Preamble

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel convened a “2+2” meeting with ROK Foreign Minister Yun Byung-se and Minister of National Defense Han Min-koo in Washington on October 24, 2014. The “2+2” session followed the Security Consultative Meeting (SCM) between Secretary Hagel and Minister Han at the Pentagon. Building on the vision for the Alliance expressed in recent summit meetings and through the Joint Declaration in Commemoration of the 60th Anniversary of the U.S.-ROK Alliance, the four Ministers reaffirmed the strength of the alliance in the face of existing security threats and new and evolving regional and global challenges. The United States reaffirmed its unyielding commitment to the defense of the Republic of Korea under the Mutual Defense Treaty.

The Ministers recognized that the U.S.-ROK Alliance, over the past 60 years, has played an enormous role in maintaining regional stability and prosperity, and is stronger than ever before. Both sides reaffirmed their commitment to further develop the Alliance into a global partnership that is more than just the linchpin of peace and stability in Northeast Asia. With a common understanding of the Alliance’s global capabilities, the Ministers committed to building on those capabilities to actively address emerging challenges to peace and security around the world, including Ebola and ISIL.

U.S.-ROK Alliance

The Alliance between the United States and the Republic of Korea, now in its 61st year, remains the linchpin of peace and security in the Asia-Pacific region. Secretary Kerry and Foreign Minister Yun acknowledged the extensive and continuing work by the U.S. Department of Defense and the ROK Ministry of National Defense, discussed at length during the SCM, and they welcomed the SCM Joint Communique, released earlier by the Defense Ministers of both countries.

Following up on the presidential decision in April 2014 that, due to the evolving security environment in the region, including the North Korean nuclear and missile threat, the current timeline for the transition of wartime operational control (OPCON) in 2015 can be reconsidered, Secretary Kerry and Foreign Minister Yun welcomed that after productive consultations the two sides reached an agreement on the decision at the SCM to implement the ROK-proposed conditions-based approach to the transition of wartime operational control from the U.S. forces-led Combined Forces Command (CFC) to a new ROK forces-led combined defense command. The ROK reaffirmed that it will continue its efforts to build the necessary capabilities required to lead the Combined Defense, while the U.S. provided assurance that the United States will continue to remain committed to the defense of the ROK and the stability of the region.

The Ministers highlighted the importance of our longstanding, mutually beneficial cooperation on the peaceful uses of nuclear energy, and welcomed the significant progress made in negotiations on a new agreement, which will serve as a strong foundation for bilateral civil nuclear cooperation for the future. Both sides reaffirmed their commitment to conclude an agreement in a timely manner. The Ministers also praised the work of the U.S.-ROK Bilateral Cyber Policy Consultations and the 2nd U.S.-ROK Cyber Cooperation Working Group, and reaffirmed their shared objective of an open, interoperable, secure, and reliable cyberspace. Both sides looked forward to the next Consultations meeting, to take place in Washington in 2015.

The Ministers welcomed our shared commitment and partnership on nuclear safety and security, as well as the global non-proliferation regime, such as the IAEA, the Global Partnership, the Global Initiative to Combat Nuclear Terrorism, UNSCR 1540, the Proliferation Security Initiative and other key international mechanisms. They decided to work together to ensure a successful Nuclear Security Summit in 2016, to be hosted by the United States.

The Ministers reaffirmed their commitment to strengthening cooperation on space, building on the first ROK-U.S. Civil Space Dialogue in July 2014 as well as the signing of the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) on Space Situational Awareness (SSA) Service and Information Sharing at the 4th ROK-U.S. Space Cooperation Working Group (SCWG) in September 2014. The Ministers also decided to cooperate closely in addressing challenges to space security and sustainability, particularly by encouraging the early adoption of the International Code of Conduct for Outer Space Activities.

North Korea

The Ministers agreed that the denuclearization of North Korea is critical to lasting peace and security on the Korean Peninsula. Echoing the discussions at the SCM, the Ministers expressed their solidarity in the face of North Korean threats and urged North Korea to denuclearize and refrain from provocations. The Ministers also urged North Korea to return to credible and meaningful negotiations aimed at the complete, verifiable, and irreversible denuclearization of North Korea. The Ministers underscored that North Korea cannot succeed in pursuing economic development without denuclearization and that it will remain isolated internationally unless it relinquishes all of its nuclear and missile programs and fully complies with its international obligations under the U.N. Security Council resolutions and commitments under the September 19, 2005 Joint Statement of the Six-Party Talks. The Ministers urged all countries, including the Six-Party Talks partners, to fully implement all sanctions and other measures set forth in the relevant UN Security Council resolutions.

The Ministers agreed on the need to establish a foundation for peaceful reunification as envisioned in the Initiative for Peaceful Unification on the Korean Peninsula proposed by President Park on March 28, 2014 and confirmed by President Obama during his April 2014 visit to Seoul. The Ministers called on North Korea to take positive actions that will lead to improved inter-Korean relations.

The Ministers also welcomed increased international attention on human rights in North Korea. The UN Commission of Inquiry’s report clearly documents the systematic, widespread, and gross violations of human rights taking place in North Korea. The United States thanked the ROK for its commitment to host a field-based structure to be established by the U.N. Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, which will help enhance the international community’s awareness of ongoing human rights violations in North Korea and of the need to implement the COI recommendations.

Regional Issues

The Ministers recognized that trilateral security cooperation between the United States, the ROK, and Japan strengthens deterrence against the North Korean threat and expressed their intention to expand trilateral security cooperation and coordination, and decided to continue consulting on trilateral information sharing measures as discussed at the Shangri-La Dialogue in May 2014. The United States briefed the ROK, earlier this month, at the senior-level on the ongoing consultations with Japan on the revision of the U.S.-Japan Defense Guidelines, which will proceed in a transparent manner within the framework of the U.S.-Japan Alliance. The Ministers recognized the value of the Defense Trilateral Talks and the trilateral Foreign Ministers talks on the margin of the ASEAN Regional Forum.

The Ministers were in agreement on the importance of constructive cooperation with China through various forms of dialogue to further our shared goals of peace, stability, and prosperity. The Ministers emphasized the importance of maintaining peace and stability, ensuring maritime security and safety, and freedom of navigation in the South China Sea. The Ministers shared the view on the need for full and effective implementation of Declaration on the Conduct (DOC) and the early adoption of a meaningful Code of Conduct (COC) by ASEAN and China.

The ROK Ministers highlighted the ongoing efforts to promote cooperation in the region, including the Park Administration’s signature Northeast Asia Peace and Cooperation Initiative (NAPCI), and plans to hold a NAPCI conference in Seoul on October 28. In the spirit of the Joint Declaration in May 2013, which states that the United States and the ROK are prepared to address common challenges and to seek ways to build an era of peace and cooperation in Northeast Asia based on the U.S.-ROK Alliance, the Ministers recognized the contribution that such a dialogue can make to addressing diverse regional challenges.

Global Partnership

The Ministers stressed the commitment of the United States and the ROK to combat the scourge of Ebola, emphasizing that it is not just a public healthcare issue affecting a limited region but a grave threat to the international community. Secretary Kerry outlined the U.S. effort to organize a thorough, coordinated international response to the spread of Ebola. Secretary Hagel reaffirmed the Department of Defense’s plans to establish a command center in Liberia, build more than a dozen Ebola Treatment Units (ETUs), and distribute kits with sanitizing equipment and medicine. The ROK has contributed more than $600,000 to the effort so far, and Ministers Yun and Han reaffirmed the ROK’s plans to contribute additional $5 million through the UN Ebola Response Multi-Partner Trust Fund and to send highly-skilled health care personnel to West Africa to help fight the further spread of the Ebola virus.

Acknowledging the grave humanitarian situation in Iraq, the Ministers reaffirmed their commitment to assisting the people of Iraq against the threat of ISIL and Foreign Terrorist Fighters. The United States thanked the ROK for its recent commitment of an additional $4 million in humanitarian assistance to Iraq. Both countries condemned the brutality of ISIL, underscoring that their actions violate the basic norms of humanity and civilization, and expressed their support for the international community fighting against the threat of ISIL. The Ministers also underscored the continuing need to assist Syrian refugees and reiterated their call for a political transition in Syria that ends the crisis.

Secretaries Kerry and Hagel expressed appreciation for President Park’s announcement at UNGA that the ROK would seek to enhance the quality of its overseas development assistance. They welcomed the ROK’s commitment to long-term sustainable growth in developing countries, recognizing its positive impact on peace, prosperity, and global security. Both sides also reaffirmed their close diplomatic and military cooperation in support of humanitarian assistance and disaster relief.

Regarding the Iranian nuclear issue, the Ministers reaffirmed the importance of successfully reaching a comprehensive arrangement between Iran and the P5+1, deciding to continue to work together towards this goal by the November 24 deadline. The United States thanked the ROK for its support of the joint efforts in Afghanistan, particularly its participation in the International Security Assistance Forces (ISAF) in Afghanistan and development assistance, including its provincial reconstruction team. The ROK Ministers reaffirmed that the ROK would continue assistance efforts to Afghanistan even after the termination of the ISAF mission in 2014.

The Ministers reaffirmed their respect for the sovereignty, territorial integrity, and independence of Ukraine, and stressed that the international community does not recognize the purported annexation of Crimea by Russia. The Ministers called for the full implementation of the 12-point Minsk agreement.

The Ministers emphasized the importance of mitigating and adapting to climate change, particularly to achieve a new climate regime agreement by the 2015 Conference of the Parties in Paris. In May, the ROK hosted and the U.S. Secretary of Energy attended the 5th Clean Energy Ministerial, a high-level global forum to share best practices and promote policies and programs that encourage and facilitate the transition to a global clean energy economy.

Conclusion

The U.S.-ROK Alliance continues to benefit not only the United States and the Republic of Korea, but increasingly the Asia Pacific region and the world at large. Acknowledging that today’s meeting was very productive and useful, the Ministers decided to continue to hold close bilateral consultations to deepen and intensify our cooperation in growing areas of mutual interest.