The U.S. and South Korea Working Together on Regional and Global Issues

Hillary Rodham Clinton
Secretary of State, Secretary of State
Remarks With South Korean Foreign Minister Yu
Seoul, South Korea
February 20, 2009

FOREIGN MINISTER YU: (Via interpreter) – Good morning, everyone. I am delighted to welcome Secretary Clinton, who is here visiting Korea on her first overseas trip as the Secretary of State. Today, Secretary Clinton and I shared the view that the ROK-U.S. alliance is a cornerstone for peace and stability on the Korean Peninsula and in Northeast Asia and reaffirmed its importance.

As such, in order to aptly address the new security environment and needs of the 21st century, our two sides agreed to work together to further develop our alliance into a future-oriented strategic alliance based on our common values of democracy, human rights, and the market economy. We also have a common view that alliance readjustment projects will lay an important foundation for the further development of our future-oriented alliance and agree to closely cooperate with each other for the successful implementation of these projects.

Secretary Clinton and I also had in-depth discussions on North Korea and the North Korean nuclear issue. We reaffirmed that the Republic of Korea and the United States will not tolerate North Korea’s nuclear ambitions under any circumstances. We also reaffirmed our commitment to pursue the complete and verifiable denuclearization of North Korea through the Six-Party Talks on the basis of close coordination between Korea and the U.S. And we agreed to strengthen cooperation with the other participating countries of the Six-Party Talks as well.

Secretary Clinton and I concurred that North Korea’s recent behavior of refusing inter-Korean dialogue and attempting to heighten tensions is impairing the stability on the Korean Peninsula and the Northeast Asian region. We urge North Korea to halt such provocative actions and expeditiously resume inter-Korean talks without any preconditions. Secretary Clinton and I agreed that our two countries should continue to work closely together to overcome the global financial crisis faced by the international community, and also to prevent trade protectionism. In this regard, our two countries will exert joint efforts to ensure the success of the upcoming G-20 Summit meeting in London in April.

In addition, with regard to the Korea-U.S. Free Trade Agreement, we shared the view that the FTA will strengthen Korea-U.S. ties overall and agreed to work together to move forward on this matter. Furthermore, we agreed to continue our cooperation for the success of the negotiations on climate change. The two of us shared the view that the stability and reconstruction of Afghanistan are crucial for the global peace and stability and agree to continue to work together to this end.

In this regard, our side explained our intentions for additional contributions to Afghanistan and the joint assistant projects being pursued by Korea and Japan. The U.S. side welcomed and expressed its appreciation for Korea’s continued participation in the combined efforts of the international community. In addition, our side explained plans to dispatch a Navy vessel to the waters of Somalia where it will take part in the international efforts to ensure maritime safety and to counter terrorism.

Secretary Clinton and I are of the view that it would be desirable to hold a bilateral summit meeting at an early date in order to strengthen our cooperation on further developing our alliance and on major global issues such as the global financial crisis, and we agreed to work together on this. This Foreign Ministers’ meeting has been a very meaningful occasion, where Korea and the U.S. have further strengthened our policy coordination and cooperation through wide-ranging discussions on major issues and matters of interest. Thank you.

MODERATOR: (Via interpreter) Next, Secretary Clinton.

SECRETARY CLINTON: Thank you very much, Foreign Minister Yu, for your hospitality and for such a productive meeting today.

I am very pleased to be back in the Republic of Korea on my first overseas visit as Secretary of State. I have very fond memories of the time I spent here as First Lady, and I hold great hopes for the future of our partnership. Because it is more than just a regional partnership; it is becoming a global strategic alliance that rests upon shared commitments and common values – democracy, human rights, market economies, and the pursuit of peace. And it concerns more than simply the dealings between our two nations. Our partnership has already begun to look outward at the wide array of challenges and opportunities we face around the world, and will do so increasingly in the years to come.

Let me begin with one of the most pressing of those challenges, the global financial crisis, which has hit both of our countries hard. We are taking steps, here in Korea as well as in the United States, to spur growth, create jobs, save family homes, and improve our financial architecture. And we are both conscious of our responsibility as members of the G-20 to help coordinate an effective global response.

Minister, you and I discussed a path forward toward a shared solution to these challenges, and we look forward to our Presidents’ Meeting around the G-20 in London. We also talked about the way to work together to expand trade so that it benefits both of our countries, and I appreciate the ongoing commitment by the Republic of Korea to our mission in Afghanistan, to the protection of our sea lanes from piracy, and to the commitment to work together on global climate change. So we will draw together upon our partnership to address a range of issues. And it will be important that as we do so, we rest upon the very firm foundation of our alliance.

I want to take a moment to pay tribute to the late Cardinal Kim. He was a great spiritual leader not only for Korea and the people of Korea, but for the world. And I know that he will be remembered by Koreans and all who cared about democracy, human rights, and human dignity.

Now the Republic of Korea’s achievement of democracy and prosperity stands in stark contrast to the tyranny and poverty across the border to the North. I commend the people of South Korea and your leaders for your calm resolve and determination in the face of the provocative and unhelpful statements and actions by the North. There is no issue on which we are more united than North Korea. We maintain our joint resolve to work together and through the Six-Party Talks to bring about the complete and verifiable denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.

We firmly believe that North Korea must live up to the commitments it made in the 2006 Joint Statement and other agreements. North Korea is not going to get a different relationship with the United States while insulting and refusing dialogue with the Republic of Korea. Achieving these goals will take hard work and strong leadership. Assistant Secretary Chris Hill, who has served as our chief negotiator in the Six-Party Talks, is here with me today, and he supplied a great deal of dedication in the years that he served in this position. And he has graciously agreed to continue serving our country by moving on to another challenging assignment.

So I am pleased to announce, after consulting with our partners in the Six-Party Talks, the appointment of Ambassador Stephen Bosworth as Special Representative for North Korea Policy. Ambassador Bosworth will be our senior official handling North Korea issues, reporting to me as well as to President Obama. And while President Obama obviously cannot be with us here today, I know that this appointment is of great importance to him.

North Korean behavior presents a number of important foreign policy challenges for the United States, the region, and the world. So we need a capable and experienced diplomat to lead our efforts to stem the risks of North Korea’s nuclear ambitions and the proliferation of sensitive weapons technology, and its human rights and humanitarian challenges. Ambassador Bosworth is up to the task of working with our allies and partners to convince North Korea to become a constructive part of the international community rather than a threat to its neighbors.

As our senior official handling North Korean issues, he will serve as our senior emissary for U.S. engagement with North Korea in close consultation. Special Envoy for the Six-Party Talks, Ambassador Sung Kim, will work closely with Ambassador Bosworth and continue to lead our day-to-day efforts, including maintaining constant contact with our allies and the Six-Party partners.

Ambassador Bosworth is currently the Dean of the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University. Having served as an ambassador three times, including to the Republic of Korea, he is an experienced envoy, able to interact with officials at the highest levels of foreign governments. And we believe his involvement will facilitate the high-level engagement with the North Koreans and our other partners.

Now, there is no doubt that Ambassador Bosworth will have his work cut out for him. But based on our very productive discussion today, both Minister Yu and myself will stand with our envoys and representatives as they begin once again to try to convince the North Koreans to begin a process within the Six-Party talks toward the complete and verifiable elimination of nuclear weapons.

So, Minister Yu, thank you once again, and thanks to your great country for our friendship and our partnership and for the continuing and increasing work that we will do together in the years ahead.

QUESTION: (Via interpreter) Hello, I am from CBS, (inaudible). First, my question goes to Mr. Yu. The North is showing movement to test-launch its missiles. Have there been discussions between the U.S. and Korea to – against this issue? If there have been, what have you discussed?

I’ll also give a second question to Secretary Clinton. Do you think that the test missile issue should be included on the Six-Party Talks?

FOREIGN MINISTER YU: (Via interpreter) Yes, regarding the long-term missile issue, because North Korea is developing nuclear weapons, we do have some concerns. And regarding this, the U.S. and Korea have decided to work together based upon our coordination, also work with other related countries.

If North Korea should launch a missile, even if it is a satellite, we think that this is a clear breach of UN Security Council Resolution 1718. Thank you.

SECRETARY CLINTON: We are aware of press reports that North Korea may be preparing to conduct a missile test. We don’t comment on intelligence matters, but it is clear that under the United Nations Security Council Resolution 1718, North Korea is required to suspend all activities related to its ballistic missile program. The North should refrain from violating this resolution and also from any and all provocative actions that could harm the Six-Party Talks and aggravate tensions in the region.

As we work together with our partners in the Six-Party process, we will be discussing what ways we can best approach North Korea so that we present a united front with respect to all of the issues that are of concern. But the most immediate issue is to continue the disablement of their nuclear facilities and to get a complete and verifiable agreement as to the end of their nuclear program.

MR. WOOD: Next question to Paul Richter of L.A. Times.

QUESTION: Yes. Minister Yu, Secretary Clinton spoke candidly yesterday about growing concerns that a succession crisis in the North will cause new difficulties in dealing with Pyongyang. I wonder if you share that view.

And Secretary Clinton, do have any concern now that the topic that you candidly raised yesterday might provoke a negative reaction from the North?

FOREIGN MINISTER YU: (Via interpreter) Regarding Korean relations and the North Korean issue, I’d like to say that this is one of the top priorities that we have between Korea and the U.S., and we have much interest in this. Therefore, we have our eye on the situation.

MODERATOR: Next is (inaudible) from Yonhap News.

QUESTION: (Via interpreter) Hello, I am (inaudible) from Yonhap. My question is to Secretary Clinton. First of all, regarding the assistance to Afghanistan, do you wish that Korea would join board to provide military assistance, or do you think it’s enough that Korea can take part on civilian (inaudible) by expanding maybe police forces? Also, yesterday you voiced your concerns over the succession crisis in North Korea. Do you have any – is there any particular intention behind that kind of expression of concern at this kind of time, and do you have any concerns regarding his health – that is, Kim Jong-il?

SECRETARY CLINTON: With respect to Afghanistan, we know that the Korean Government understands the importance of stabilizing and reconstructing Afghanistan - that we all have a vital interest in bringing peace to that region. And we’re very pleased that the ROK and Japan together have announced some joint projects as well as the Korean Government’s commitment to police training and other important work. We will continue to consult with the Korean Government as we go forward with our policy review.

With respect to your second question, there is a broad range of issues, as Minister Yu said, that we are always following. But it is clear as we meet here today we are dealing with the government that exists right now. And we intend to reach out together with our partners in the Six-Party Talks to engage that government and to look for ways that we can bring them back into discussion through the Six-Party process. So it’s very clear that, as Minister Yu said, when you are thinking about the future dealings with a government that doesn’t have any clear succession – they don’t have a vice president, they don’t have a prime minister – that it is something you have to think about. But for the purposes of what we are planning today, it is to deal with the government that exists, the leadership that exists, and to look for ways to involve them in the Six-Party Talks once again.

MR. WOOD: Last question to Wyatt Andrews of CBS News.

QUESTION: Madame Secretary, I’m going to repeat Paul’s question. Do you have any concerns your candid discussion yesterday about a possible succession situation in North Korea might provoke an additional response from the North Korean Government?

SECRETARY CLINTON: No, I do not, because I think that all one has to do is read the press. The open press is filled with such conversations. This is not some kind of a classified matter that is not being discussed in many circles.

But for me, as we look at planning and contingency planning, we are taking everything into account. But we deal with the government that’s in place right now, and that government is being asked to re-engage with the Six-Party Talks to fulfill the obligations that they entered into, and we expect them to do so. And at the same time, we are calling on the Government of North Korea to refrain from the kind of provocative and unhelpful war of words that it has been engaged in because that is not very fruitful. So clearly, we are looking to the existing leadership to be responsive to our desire to have them engage with the Six-Party Talks again.

MODERATOR: With that, we’d like to conclude the joint conference between the Ministers. Thank you very much for your participation.

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PRN: 2009/T1-13