Remarks at Walkout in Seoul

James B. Steinberg
Deputy Secretary of State
Republic of Korea Ministry of Foreign of Affairs and Trade Vice-Minister Kwon Jong
Seoul, South Korea
June 3, 2009

VICE-MINISTER KWON: Good afternoon. Deputy Secretary Steinberg is visiting Korea leading a high-level delegation. After North Korea’s nuclear test, the Republic of Korea and the United States have been holding close consultations at many different levels. Among them there was a telephone conversation between Foreign Minister [Yu] and Secretary [Clinton]. Also, our two presidents held a conversation by telephone. As you may know, Foreign Minister [Yu] is going to the U.S. to meet Secretary Clinton. President Lee will have a summit meeting with President Obama in two weeks in Washington, D.C. Korea and the United States are having another close consultation through Deputy Secretary Steinberg’s visit. I am confident that the fact that we are having consultations has an important meaning, both to North Korea and to the international community. Korea and the United States have agreed to evaluate the current situation and to consult very closely in the future to achieve denuclearization [of North Korea] in the long run.

DEPUTY SECRETARY STEINBERG: Thank you very much. I only heard part of your statement, but I just want to say that I am delighted to be here on behalf of President Obama and Secretary Clinton and this delegation that reflects the strong commitment we have to our common security with the Republic of Korea and working together on this very important challenge. I think our discussions demonstrated that South Korea and the United States share the same assessment of the dangers that we face by the developments in North Korea’s missile and nuclear programs and our determination to work together, along with the other countries in the region, Japan, Russia and China, to find an effective solution to convince North Korea to reverse course and to abandon its nuclear and missile programs. I think we have a common view that we need to take steps to make clear to the North that the path it is on is the wrong one, but that we are prepared, if they are prepared to change course to enter an effective dialogue that will really lead to the complete and verifiable denuclearization of the Peninsula. We discussed the importance of sustaining our strong security cooperation, and the long-term value of our relationship. We discussed the fact that President Obama and Secretary Clinton are very much looking forward to the visits of Foreign Minister Yu and President Lee in the coming days, which I think reflect the strong relationship that we have, not only in dealing with the problem of North Korea, but more broadly, dealing with the broad range of global challenges and the strong partnership that we have in dealing with the global economic crisis, in bringing prosperity to all our people, and to dealing with broad challenges including in Pakistan and Afghanistan, and dealing with the other problems that we need to work on together. So I am grateful to the Vice Foreign Minister for hosting us, I look forward to our meetings as we go forward with the Foreign Minister and the President later during the next two days, and we will continue to cooperate very closely in the days and weeks ahead.

QUESTION: Sir, can you discuss any ways to perhaps sanction North Korea if North Korea fires any more missiles?

DEPUTY SECRETARY STEINBERG We discussed the need to work together very closely in the event of any contingency. In the first instance, our representatives in New York are working very closely to fashion a response to North Korea’s most recent nuclear test, and we agreed that we need to stay and work very closely together to deal with any future actions by North Korea to make clear that now is the time for North Korea, rather than continuing to take more dangerous and provocative actions, to recognize that the better course is to re-engage, to get back on the path of negotiations towards de-nuclearization.

QUESTION: Are you discussing financial sanctions?

DEPUTY SECRETARY STEINBERG: I think we are discussing a range of options. As you know, there are discussions in New York that look at the kinds of measures that we could take. I don’t want to rule in or rule out specific s right now, except to say that, here, we are focused less on the specific measures that can be taken, and more on our long-term strategy on how to proceed.

QUESTION: Would you discuss about the North Korean succession issue, and how would you prepare for the post-Kim Jong Il regime?

DEPUTY SECRETARY STEINBERG: I think what we recognize is that we have a common interest in preparing for whatever developments take place in the North. We recognize that there are events that may be taking place there, but what we focus on is how we can continue to work together to make sure that no matter what happens in North Korea, that we have a common approach, that we have a shared assessment and a common strategy that we can build on this strong bilateral relationship, to work with our partners in Tokyo, and with Russia and China, to make sure that however events develop, that we have a common path.

STAFF: Thank you very much