Remarks with Japanese Foreign Minister Seiji Maehara and South Korean Foreign Minister Kim Sung-hwan

Hillary Rodham Clinton
Secretary of State
Remarks following trilateral meeting
Washington, DC
December 6, 2010

SECRETARY CLINTON:  Good afternoon.  I am delighted to have both Minister Maehara of Japan and Minister Kim of the Republic of Korea here for these consultations and this historic trilateral meeting that underscores the strength of our shared commitment to advancing regional peace, prosperity, and stability.  These discussions illustrate the importance of the deep bilateral relationships that the United States has with Japan and South Korea, as well as the value of the partnership between Japan and South Korea.  Such strong relationships are the foundation for the unified position that our countries are taking with respect to North Korea.

We all agree that North Korea’s provocative and belligerent behavior jeopardizes peace and stability in Asia. We are deeply concerned by its unprovoked attack on the island of Yeonpyeong, resulting in the loss of South Korean lives.  On behalf of the American people, I would like to convey our sympathies to the victims and their families.  Our thoughts and prayers are with you.  We want the people of South Korea to know that we are standing shoulder-to-shoulder with you, and we are deeply committed to your defense.

The minister and I share the view that the attack by the North Koreans violates the Armistice Agreement of 1953; that North Korea’s provocative and belligerent behavior threatens us all, and that it will be met with solidarity from all three countries.

The attack is the latest in a series of North Korean provocations.  It has disclosed a uranium enrichment program that violates UN Security Council Resolutions 1718 and 1874, as well as North Korea’s commitments under the September 2005 Joint Statement of the Six-Party Talks.  And the sinking of the Cheonan, killing 46 South Korean sailors, deepened North Korea’s international isolation.

From day one of the Obama Administration, we have made clear that North Korea needs to change.  The international community has repeatedly presented North Korean leadership with a path toward greater engagement and integration, but thus far they have chosen the path of confrontation and isolation.  The path to a better relationship and a secure and prosperous future is still open to North Korea if it makes the right choices.  We remain committed to seeking opportunities for dialogue.  But we will not reward North Korea for shattering the peace or defying the international community.

This trilateral meeting reaffirmed the steps that North Korea must take in order for a resumption of Six-Party Talks to produce results.  North Korea must improve relations with the Republic of Korea and cease its provocative behavior.  North Korea must also comply with its international obligations and take concrete steps to implement its denuclearization commitments under the September 2005 Joint Statement.

As part of our comprehensive strategy going forward, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Admiral Mullen will lead a delegation to South Korea tonight to enhance coordination on strategic deterrence.  He will then visit Tokyo.  Next week, I will be sending a high-level team to Asia to follow up on today’s meeting.  

The ministers and I are also in close consultation with China and Russia.  I have emphasized to my Chinese colleagues that China, as a vital partner in maintaining regional stability, a country with unique and strong ties with North Korea, and chair of the Six-Party Talks, has a special role to play in helping to shape North Korea’s behavior.  We will continue to work closely with Beijing, Moscow, and the rest of the international community to fully implement UN Security Council Resolutions 1718 and 1874.

Last night, President Obama spoke with Chinese President Hu.  They reaffirmed the importance of a denuclearized Korean Peninsula.  And we appreciate Beijing’s initiative to propose an emergency Six-Party gathering.  However, we first need an appropriate basis for the resumption of talks.  Any effort, of course, must start with North Korea ceasing all provocative and belligerent behavior. 

The U.S. treaty alliances with Japan and the Republic of Korea have been the foundation for peace and stability in Asia for decades, and the Japan-South Korea partnership helps form a triangle of stability and cooperation.  The ministers and I reaffirmed our steadfast commitments under our respective defense treaties.  In addition, on Friday, the Republic of Korea and the United States, completed negotiations on a landmark Korea-U.S. Free Trade Agreement that will further strengthen the bonds between our two countries.

These strong bilateral relationships are now enhancing our trilateral cooperation, as well as all of our countries’ relationships with China.  The United States is encouraged by steps that China, Japan, and the Republic of Korea have taken to deepen their bilateral ties, because we believe that strong relationships among all four countries are an essential element of peace and stability in Asia.

The ministers and I also released a joint trilateral statement that provides a framework to enhance regional cooperation and collaboration.  It articulates key principles for expanding trilateral cooperation not only on the Korean Peninsula, but in the Lower Mekong, supporting Middle East – the Middle East peace process, enforcing UN sanctions to counter Iran’s nuclear ambitions.  And most importantly, we are in agreement to continue working closely together and to hold additional regular trilateral interactions.  There is a lot at stake and we are committed to working through all the challenges that we face together.

Let me please now turn this over to Minister Maehara.

FOREIGN MINISTER MAEHARA:  (Via interpreter) Secretary Clinton, thank you very much.  A spate of incidents that has been shaking the region and following that spate of provocations, the United States Government and especially Secretary Clinton has organized this meeting, and I would like to express my special gratitude to Secretary Clinton. 

Recent shelling to – of Yeonpyeong Island where unarmed citizens live, this armed attack by North Korea – there is no reason for us to – we can find no reason to legitimize that attack, and we’d like to express our heartfelt condolences to the people of Korea who have been attacked.  And I would like to express our strong support for the very calm and restrained response that the government and people of the Republic of Korea have taken in spite of such attack.  And I would like to also very strongly condemn North Korea for having taken such an act.  And I also seek the action on the part of DPRK in the first place to deal with the situation.

We also share great concern with regard to the uranium enrichment program that was unveiled.  This plan is a clear violation of the UN Security Council Resolutions 1714 and 1874 and also is a clear violation of the joint statement of the Six Parties of 2005.  DPRK – we strongly condemn North Korea for their clear violation of the Security Council resolutions and the joint statement, and also we demand North Korea to sincerely act in accordance with the commitment they made for the denuclearization of the peninsula.

I would call on DPRK to comply with the Security Council resolutions and the joint statement of the Six-Party Talks.  And we also agree that there’s a need for concrete action by DPRK.  Also, the three countries agree that we would hope that China, which chairs the Six-Party Talks, to play an even greater role in relation to North Korea.  We also agree to step up coordination and cooperation with the international community, including China and Russia.  At this meeting, we confirmed that Japan, U.S., and ROK will, with a strong determination, keep up their close coordination in order to prevent further escalation of the situation from the perspective of peace and stability of Northeast Asia. 

Last but not the least, I would like to express our respect to U.S. and ROK for finally achieving agreement on the bilateral trade agreement – free trade agreement after negotiations. 


FOREIGN MINISTER KIM:  (Via interpreter)  First of all, I would like to express appreciation to Secretary Clinton for inviting Minister Maehara and myself to Washington, D.C., and for a warm welcome.  This is my first visit since I came into office, and I believe my meeting with Secretary Clinton and Minister Maehara were most timely in meeting the challenges posed by North Korea.  I also wish to thank the two ministers for expressing their sincere condolences to the victims of the attack on – of the Yeonpyeong Island. 

The ministers of our three countries firmly share the view that North Korea’s armed attack poses a grave threat to the peace and security of not only the Korean Peninsula, but also the entire Asian-Pacific region, and agree to enhance collaboration and consultation on North Korean policy. 

We, the three ministers, agreed that North Korea’s shelling of Yeonpyeong Island is an unlawful act in clear violation of the UN charter, Korean Armistice Agreement of 1953 and basic agreement, and call on North Korea to cease its provocative behavior.  We also share the view that North Korea will face severe consequences if it engages further provocations.  We also underscored that North Korea’s uranium enrichment program is a clear violation of UN Security Council resolution as well as the joint statement of the September 2005, and reaffirmed that we will continue our efforts to realize the common goals of complete and verifiable denuclearization of North Korea.  We also reaffirmed that in order for the heads of delegations of the Six-Party Talks to get together, the appropriate circumstances must be put in place first, such as North Korea’s demonstration of its sincerity towards the continued denuclearization with action. 

Based on close coordination among the Republic of Korea, U.S., and Japan in dealing with North Korea, including the nuclear issue, the ministers agreed to make efforts to closely cooperate with other members of the Six-Party Talks.  Building on the outcomes of today’s meeting, I look forward to having close consultations with our partners on various levels, as well as further enhancing our trilateral cooperation.  Thank you.

SECRETARY CLINTON:  Thank you very much, Minister Kim.

MR. CROWLEY:  Well, we have time for only one question on each side.  We’ll begin with (inaudible). 

QUESTION:  Hi, Madam Secretary.  Can you hear me?


QUESTION:  Hi, Madam Secretary, Mister Ministers.  A question for all of you on China:  You’ve all spoken about the need for China to take some strong measures.  What specifically would you like China to do?  And what does it say to China that they were not invited here today?  And how do you expect to get this done without them here? 

And a question for the Secretary, if I may:  Today, Wikileaks published a cable in which it published a list of sensitive national security sites around the world.  What are the ramifications for that release?  And what involvement does the United States have in shutting down Wikileaks’s financing?  Thank you very much.

SECRETARY CLINTON:  Well, first, China and Russia continue to be our partners in the Six-Party Talks.  We have been in very close contact with them.  The trilateral ministerial is a meeting with our Northeast Asia treaty allies, and we look forward to China playing a vital role in regional diplomacy.  They have a unique relationship with North Korea.  And we would hope that China would work with us to send a clear, unmistakable message to North Korea that they have to demonstrate a seriousness of purpose in ending their provocative actions.  And there are many ways that that they can do that, and we will be focused on trying to work with our allies and our partners in the Six-Party Talks to deliver that message. 

I’ll let each minister answer, and they I’ll come back to your question.

FOREIGN MINISTER MAEHARA:  (Via interpreter)  I think the framework of the Six-Party Talks is very important.  And through the Six-Party Talks, the joint statement was issued in 2005 that North Korea should give up all nuclear development program and commit to the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.  To realize this, not just the three countries but other countries that are participating in the Six-Party Talks, especially China, has an important role to play.  And I think this perception is shared by Russia. 

This is not a mechanism of a dialogue for the purpose of dialogue.  The Six-Party Talks is a framework to implement the 2005 joint statement, and we confirmed what we negotiate together, seek for that purpose.  And I think it is extremely important that the three countries together make this call to the DPRK. 

FOREIGN MINISTER KIM:  (Via interpreter)  In relation to the question, as you’ve heard from the two ministers, until now, in order to contain North Korea’s provocation, there has been – China has done some and has done – made some contribution, and it is continuing.  However, we would like China to have a more clear stance in giving warning to North Korea and to contain these provocative actions by North Korea because these provocations is not at all helping the security of the region and the peninsula, so we would like China to play a more important role.  And regarding this, we will consult closely with the United States and Japan. 

SECRETARY CLINTON:  As I have said on numerous occasions, the illegal publication of classified information poses real concerns and even potential damage to our friends and partners around the world.  I won’t comment on any specific alleged cable, but I will underscore that this theft of U.S. Government information and its publication without regard to the consequences is deeply distressing.  And we continue to address all of the challenges it presents and call on countries around the world and businesses to assist us in preventing any of the consequences that could either endanger individuals or other interests internationally. 

MR. CROWLEY:  On the Japanese side, (inaudible). 

QUESTION:  (Via interpreter)  (Inaudible) with (inaudible) Shimbun.  A question for Minister Maehara:  At the foreign ministers meeting, what was the point that Japan stressed the most and for what reason?  I believe a future response will be very important.  Uranium enrichment and the shelling – following this uranium enrichment and shelling, how – what sort of specific action are you going to take?  Will it ask for a response at UN Security Council?  What specific measures will you seek for denuclearization? 

A third point:  You referred to the role of China, and I wonder what specific views Japan has with regard with the role that China can play?

And last point:  Secretary Clinton said that Admiral Mullen and other high officials of the government will be sent very soon to Korea and Asia, and I wonder what role they’ll be playing.

FOREIGN MINISGTER MAEHARA:  (via interpreter)  A major purpose of the meeting this time is for Japan and Korea, which are allies of the United States, to get together and in this tripartite format to discuss in response to this unforgiveable attack on Yeongpyeong and the revelation of uranium enrichment, together condemn North Korea, and instead of escalating the situation, call on DPRK to act on their own responsibility to comply with the armistice agreement on the peninsula and take specific actions. 

As far as Japan is concerned, how are we to act on the Six-Party Talks?  We exchanged views on this question.  Also, I expressed Japan’s position.  We will, of course, continue to make use of the United Nations.  The uranium enrichment is something that will be a threat not just to Japan and the ROK, but to the international community, and I explained that how we need to respond to that also as an international community.  There was a question about China building on these tripartite discussions.  Minister Saiki, who is the director general of the Asian Affairs Bureau of the Japanese foreign minister, who also heads Japan’s team to Six-Party Talks, will be sent soon to China to explain what is on Japan’s mind and what Japan intends to do, so that the five parties will together be dealing with DPRK instead of creating a situation of three countries versus three. 

MR. CROWLEY:  (Off-mike.)

QUESTION:  Thank you, P.J.  (Inaudible) from Yonhop News Agency.  So Madam Secretary and Minister Kim, you are rejecting China’s proposal for emergency meeting of chief nuclear envoys this month.  And are you considering bringing North Korea’s attack on South Korean Yeongpyeong Island and its uranium project to the UN Security Council? 

Also, what do you think of the criticism that unlike Clinton Administration, the Obama Administration closely follows the Bush Administration’s hard-line policy on North Korea, maybe a bit stronger policy, to prompt North Korea to increase its nuclear arsenal and other provocations? 

And my last question is:  Have you discussed anything on Korea FTA’s ratification today?  Thank you. 

SECRETARY CLINTON:  First, let me say that with regard to an emergency meeting with members of the Six-Party Talks, North Korea first needs to take concrete steps to demonstrate a change of behavior.  The Six-Party Talks cannot substitute for action by North Korea to comply with its obligations. 

As you’ve already heard, North Korea should abide by the terms of the armistice, fulfill its requirements under the joint statement, and comply with all of its obligations under United Nations Security Council resolutions.  They need to demonstrate a seriousness of purpose in ending their provocations and let the world know that they are now ready to come to the table and fulfill the commitments that they have already made.  Because the Six-Party Talks cannot substitute for specific actions by North Korea to comply with all of its obligations. 

We have discussed a range of all the issues connected with our actions going forward.  We’re in consultation at the United Nations with members there, and we certainly did discuss the very important Korean Free Trade Agreement, because we think it’s so much in the interests of both of our countries, and we are going to be working together to expedite it with our respective governments and legislatures as quickly as possible.   

FOREIGN MINISTER MAEHARA:  Thank you very much.

SECRETARY CLINTON:  Thank you very much. 


PRN: 2010/1761